Modelling living systems - From foundational problems to applications

Guest lecturer: Dominique Chu, School of Computing, University of Kent

Organizers and tutors: Roger Strand and Rune Kleppe, Digital Life Norway

Target audiences:

  • Researchers who engage in modelling of biological systems
  • Researchers in biology, biotechnology and life science
  • Researchers interested in complex systems
Number of participants: Max 20.
Fee: None. The event is sponsored by Digital Life Norway.
Researchers affiliated with Digital Life Norway projects will have priority.


Organisms are complex systems, different from simple mechanical systems in many ways. They are thermodynamically open, self-maintained and capable of reproducing, have complex shapes, and exhibit processes and structures that span a large range of scales both in size and time. However, the complexity is not only due to a large number of components, or due to nonlinear interactions between components. More importantly, living systems, unlike engineered systems, may be "causally closed”.

There are strong theoretical arguments that causal closure is a fundamental obstacle to computational modelling of living systems. In the context of applied research, causal closure could be a major reason for the failure to translate model based insights into the application domain.

The aim of this workshop is to discuss the challenges by modeling biological systems. In particular, challenges posed by causal closure and related theoretical concepts in the context of applied life science research. We will discuss how different modelling approaches and architectures may deal with these challenges. Participants are encouraged to present their own models for discussion. It will also be possible for participants to submit material and questions to the organizers before the workshop so that the discussion can be well prepared.

Programme (subject to modifications)

Thursday 7. September

1200-1245 Introduction over light lunch

1300-1430 Overview of modelling approaches and architectures

1430-1700 Challenges of modelling; autopoiesis, closed casual entailment and impredicative loops

Friday 8. September

0900-1030 Purpose and quality criteria for models. Explanatory power, prediction and engineering

1100-1200 Analysing participants’ models – I

1200-1245 Lunch

1300-1430 Analysing participants’ models – II

1430-1500 Summary and conclusion

Follow link to register:

Questions and input can be sent to Rune Kleppe ( or Roger Strand (

Informasjon om arrangementet

  • Tidspunkt:
    07. — 08. Sep 2017
  • Sted:
    University of Bergen, Allégaten 34
  • Arrangement:


Rune Kleppe


Workshop Konferanse / Workshop Forskerskolen