Translations between biology and sociology

Part I. This will look at:

- The links between biology and mathematics; an area which I studied at Warwick. I have also constructed various computer models of biological systems in the last 10-12 years.
- The links between formal syntax in mathematics, computation and semiotics. My strengths in this area are in differential and fractal geometries, in computational set theory and in computer languages.
- Links between the limitative results of formal syntax (Godel's Theory, Turing's Halting Problem, Cantor's Paradox, Derrida's Circles of Meaning, and Baudrillard's Hyperreality) and the librarian's problem (that of finding a classification system that allows a collection of books to be ordered by subject on a shelf).

In my present job as Community Information Assistant at Ilfracombe Library, I am involved in maintaining and searching a database of local organisations. This constantly involves me in the structures of relationship between different organisations and reminds me of the differences between database structures and hypertext structures. My current web pages were inspired by my inability to construct an effective bibliography with a database. I am currently looking at ways in which databases and hypertext can be linked.

Initial points of translation from biology (5,000 words)

- Sociology and fishing ecologies - Jacquie McGlade - Communicative approaches
- Sociology and farming ecologies - Vandana Shiva - Global and local knowledge
- Biology and ecology - Ernst Mayr - Population thinking - plurality
- Mathematics and biology - 1900's Mendel - 1930's Synthetic theory - Neutral theory (Kiruma)- Game theory -
- Computation and biology - Neural nets - protein computation - gas nets - virtual heart - Chaos

- Links between formalism in mathematics
and linguistics
- Interest of Leibniz, Peano and Godel in language
- Symbolic, syntactic codes

- Leibniz - Eco and Barrow - The librarian's problem
- Mathematical formalism - Cantor - Peano - Russell - Godel - (Casti, Hof, Barrow)
- Computational formalism - Boole - Difference Engine - Turing - (
- Cultural formalism - Saussure - Jakobson - Levi-Strauss - Barthes - Derrida - Baudrillard - Eco - (Hawkes)

- Trees and graphs -
**Abstract**

Graph theory can be used as a notation that allows descriptions of web-like connections between objects. By translating the librarian's problem into graph theory it is possible to distinguish four general cases of graphs. When applied to translations between biology and sociology, these four cases show that it is possible for biologists and sociologists to mis-represent each other's arguments, thus allowing them to dismiss each other's results. However, these general cases also allow some of the limitative results of formal literary criticism to be expressed in mathematical terms. A specific example, Derrida's Circle of Meaning, is translated into graph theory. The form of this translation shows that biological and sociological mis-representations are two extreme cases. It also shows that cases exist for which biological and sociological representations can agree. The sociologist Umberto Eco and the biologist Ernst Mayr both agree that pluralist theories best represent their specific fields of research. The translation problem then becomes: which specific graph are we dealing with in each specific biological or sociological example? Furthermore, is that graph one that allows agreement and therefore is that graph one that allows translations to be made? - Classification by gene function.

Venter et al. (1995) make an oblique reference to the librarian's problem in gene classification. Their cell function based division of genes may not be the only possible division. To test this we must see whether other functions of the genes give rise to different divisions of genes. Some genes, such as those specifying the proteins for ion channels, can be placed in either the**cell signalling communication**class or in the**metabolism**class. Genes involving multi-cellular activities may also cross Venter's classification.This does not mean that any classification system is as good as any other. Venter's classification is partially based on the a posteriori classifications given to the proteins by their researchers. These researchers that know some of the pathways in which these proteins are involved

**within the cellular context**. The evidence does suggest that both hierarchies and webs are involved in cellular organisation. In this way, ecological approaches to multi-cellularity might ask informative questions.Translating this problem back to the genotype-phenotype question, can we ask - how is our set of protein forms related to our set of protein functions? If we take as given that genes determine protein form can we also assume that genes determine all protein functions? To answer this question we must assume that protein function is independent of protein form, and then see how the two relate. The number of genes involved in human genome makes computational methods necessary.

In computational approaches we must ensure that the assumption of form-function independence is preserved so that the results will be a property of the data and not a computational effect. This can therefore be expressed as a problem in bio-informatics - how can we classify a database so that the functionally properties that we wish to study are preserved? In this way, computational and linguistic approaches to multi-cellularity might ask informative questions.

Venter et al. (1995) "Initial assessment of human gene diversity and expression patterns based upon 83 million nucleotides of cDNA sequence", Nature

**377**Suppl., pp. 3-174 - Directories, hierarchies and set theory.
Some differences between the ways in which computers like to
represent information and the ways in which information finds itself
organised. - (just pictures at the moment - 5/7/99)
- Theories of everything - Infinities - Limitative theories - Cantor's paradox
- Colour -

- Linking cultural theory to the genotype - phenotype question.
- Genotype and phenotype
- Hierarchies in biology

Links at this site...

- Translations between biology and
sociology
**Part I: initial points of translation.**- Part II: What questions does sociology ask
- Part III: What are the roles of calcium in the genotype - phenotype argument?

Links to other sites...

Created 22/6/99

Modified 5/7/99