Model structure of a fragment of biological knowledge (cell motility)

Acta Biotheoretica 37 (3-4):237-266 (1988)
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Abstract

The aim of the study is to contribute to a better understanding of some aspects of the structure of biological knowledge and to make clearer to what extent the methods of reasoning may be useful in this field when only qualitative information is available. A fragment of biological knowledge (theory of cell motility) is analysed from the logico-methodological point of view as a coherent system and the possibility of its formal representation is investigated. The analysis is based on distinguishing the main objects and their features (attributes) of which a given piece of knowledge is composed and on the values which these features may display. The features are interconnected by relations (in which various number of arguments appear) and these relations constitute the main (general, higher level) laws of a given fragment of knowledge (theory). Values of attributes are also mutually connected and these relations correspond to the detailed (lower level) laws. A computer system (in which Prolog language was used) enables to perform inference operations of progressive as well as regressive type. The main categories of reasoning procedures are described and illustrated by examples, namely a) search for conclusions which may be confronted with the actual knowledge in order to verify the system as a whole, b) formation of working hypotheses in the process of their empirical verification and explanation of facts and laws. The problem of development and modification of the system is also discussed.

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