Branching processes : variation, growth, and extinction of populations
© International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis 2005. Biology takes a special place among the other natural sciences because biological units, be they pieces of DNA, cells or organisms, reproduce more or less faithfully. As for any other biological processes, reproduction has a large random component. The theory of branching processes was developed especially as a mathematical counterpart to this most fundamental of biological processes. This active and rich research area allows us to make predictions about both extinction risks and the development of population composition, and also uncovers aspects of a population's history from its current genetic composition. Branching processes play an increasingly important role in models of genetics, molecular biology, microbiology, ecology and evolutionary theory. This book presents this body of mathematical ideas for a biological audience, but should also be enjoyable to mathematicians.