Department of Mathematics

Cosy Seminar (April 4th): Speaker: Prof. Wim Hordijk; Title: Autocatalytic Sets: The Origin and Organization of Life

  • Date: 4/4/2017 at 12:00 PM 1:00 PM
  • Location: Å11167 Å11167
  • Lecturer: Speaker: Wim Hordijk, SmartAnalytiX.com
  • Website
  • Organizer: Erik Ekström
  • Contact person: Erik Ekström
  • Seminarium

Cosy Seminar (April 4th): Speaker: Prof. Wim Hordijk; Title: Autocatalytic Sets: The Origin and Organization of Life

4 April
SpeakerWim HordijkSmartAnalytiX.com
Title: Autocatalytic Sets: The Origin and Organization of Life
Place: Å11167
Time: 12:00 -- 13:00
Abstract:
Life is a chemical reaction network. More specifically, living systems produce their own components (from a basic “food set”), which in turn maintain and regulate the chemical reaction network that produces these same components. In other words, life is a functionally closed and self-sustaining system.
During the 1970s, several researchers independently developed formal models of a minimal living system based on this view of life. However, most of these models do not explain how these systems could have emerged spontaneously from basic (prebiotic) chemistry. They provide insights into the organization of life, but not necessarily its origin.
A new mathematical framework, based on the original notion of autocatalytic sets, is able to shed more light on both of these aspects. Autocatalytic sets capture the functionally closed and self-sustaining properties of life in a formal way, and detailed studies have shown how such sets emerge spontaneously, and can then evolve further, in simple models of chemical reaction networks. Furthermore, this theory has been applied directly and successfully to study real chemical and biological networks. The autocatalytic sets framework thus provides a useful and formal tool for studying and understanding both the origin and organization of life.
In this talk, I will give a non-technical overview of the background, concepts, and main results of the formal framework, and how it can perhaps be generalized beyond chemistry and the origin of life to entire living systems, ecological networks, and possibly even social systems like the economy.