Nicola Angius, Guglielmo Tamburrini

From simulative programs as theories to theories of simulative programs

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Computer Simulations; Information Processing Psychology; Executable Cell Biology; Model Checking; Abstraction; Idealization.

This paper provides a methodological analysis of Executable Cell Biology (ECB), a current simulative approach to computational biology, showing how ECB resumed the general idea of constructing theoretical models that are also executable, pursued over fifty years ago by Herbert Simon and Allen Newell within the Information Processing Psychology approach. It is highlighted, however, that ECB focuses on a more abstract model of the biological system. On the one hand, the processes of abstraction involved in the construction of ECB theoretical models allow one to omit those implementation details of the simulative program that have no theoretical value. On the other hand, the executability of the abstract model permits, in general, to expand the class of predictions that can be extracted from the observation of the simulative programs' executions. Finally, focusing on ECB executable theoretical models, which are distinct from the simulative programs, poses new problems for the methodological analysis of the sciences of the artificial, in particular with reference to the role that both abstraction and idealization processes have in the construction of theoretical models and in the exploration of their relationship with the biological reality of modelled systems.

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