Alan Turing and the Patterns of Life

Speaker: Przemysław Prusinkiewicz

Date: Tue, Oct 9, 2012 to Wed, Oct 10, 2012

Location: PIMS, University of Calgary

Conference: Alan Turing Year

Subject: Mathematics, Mathematical Biology

Class: Scientific


In 1952, Turing published his only paper spanning chemistry and biology: "The chemical basis of morphogenesis". In it, he proposed a hypothetical mechanism for the emergence of complex patterns in chemical reactions, called reaction-diffusion. He also predicted the use of computational models as a tool for understanding patterning. Sixty years later, reaction-diffusion is a key concept in the study of patterns and forms in nature. In particular, it provides a link between molecular genetics and developmental biology. The presentation will review the concept of reaction-diffusion, the tumultuous path towards its acceptance, and its current place in biology.