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Title: Using partially specified models to detect and quantify structural sensitivity in biological systems
Authors: Adamson, Matthew William
Supervisors: Morozov, Andrey
Award date: 6-Nov-2015
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: Mathematical models in ecology and evolution are highly simplified representations of a complex underlying reality. For this reason, there is always a high degree of uncertainty with regards to the model specification—not just in terms of parameters, but also in the form taken by the model equations themselves. This uncertainty becomes critical for models in which the use of two different functions fitting the same dataset can yield substantially different model predictions—a property known as structural sensitivity. In this case, even if the model is purely deterministic, the uncertainty in the model functions carries through into uncertainty in the model predictions, and new frameworks are required to tackle this fundamental problem. Here, we construct a framework that uses partially specified models: ODE models in which unknown functions are represented not by a specific functional form, but by an entire data range and constraints of biological realism. Partially specified models can be used to rigorously detect when models are structurally sensitive in their predictions concerning the character of an equilibrium point by projecting the data range into a generalised bifurcation space formed of equilibrium values and derivatives of any unspecified functions. The key question of how to carry out this projection is a serious mathematical challenge and an obstacle to the use of partially specified models. We address this challenge by developing several powerful techniques to perform such a projection.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Appears in Collections:Theses, Dept. of Mathematics
Leicester Theses

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