Morphogenesis of Macro-Algae Team

ORIGINS OF LIFE: COMPUTING AND SIMULATION APPROACHES.


Bernard Billoud

The scope of life models and simulations is as broad as that of biology. It encompasses
studies on cell metabolism, intercellular communication, immunology, physiology, devel-
opment, cognitive processes, molecular evolution, population genetics, epidemiology etc.
However, for the purpose of the present book, we will focus on the use of computing and
simulation approaches as tools for studying the origins of life. Under the global denomin-
ation of ‘automata’, a large number of different frameworks have been used to implement
and test models accounting for the emergence of life.
Despite their diversity, these approaches call upon the same fundamental grounding: bot-
tom-up model building. Instead of identifying state variables of the whole system and for-
mulating their relationships by equations, the idea is to start with elementary components
and then specify how they interact with one another and with the environment. The whole
system behaviour is therefore not an a priori descriptor of the model, but rather emerges
from within the system. This kind of reasoning is obviously appropriate for research on the
origins of life, where the main question is precisely to find out how a property (life) which
is valid for the system (a living being) has emerged out of multiple elements (chemical
components), which are not individually endowed with this property.

 

in "Origins and Evolution of Life. An Astrobiological Perspective". Muriel Gargaud, Purificación López-Garcìa, Hervé Martin (eds). Publisher Cambridge University Press, Series: Cambridge Astrobiology
ISBN: 9780521761314, chapter 5, pp 66-81.
2011