Blog on Math Blogs

Mathematical Digest


Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

Two Reviews of Virus Dynamics: Mathematical Principles of Immunology andVirology, by Martin A. Nowak and Robert M. May:"Viral Immunology from Math," by Charles R.M. Bangham and Becca Asquith.Science, 9 February 2001, page 992; and"Viral activities from a quantitative slant," by Allan Randrup Thomsen.Nature, 22 March 2001, pages 412-413.

While mathematics has played an important role in many areas of biology, thefirst review notes, ``until recently it made little impact in immunology,largely because of our ignorance of much of the basic biology.'' But in thepast decade researchers have begun to apply mathematical analysis to thedynamics of infection response. Using HIV as a primary example, this bookaims to provide an accessible introduction to the mathematical methods usefulin immunology. ``Experimentalists tend to see mathematical models as futileexercises carried out by mathematical nerds,'' the second review baldly states.``The authors have suceeded in demonstrating that this is not the case and thatmathematical analysis constitutes an important additional tool for interpretingexperimental data and designing future studies.''

--- Allyn Jackson