Randomness, variability and diversity in biological dynamics

Giuseppe Longo

Centre Cavaillès, CNRS – Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris

(in collaboration with Marcello Buiatti, Department of Evolutionary Biology, Florence University, Florence, Italy)


The dynamic instability of living systems and the “superposition” of different forms of randomness will be viewed as components of the contingently changing, or even increasing, organization of life through ontogenesis or evolution. To this purpose, we first survey how classical and quantum physics define randomness differently. We then discuss why this requires, in our view, an enriched understanding of the effects of their concurrent presence in biological systems’ dynamics. Biological randomness is then presented as an essential component of the heterogeneous determination and intrinsic unpredictability proper to life phenomena, due to the nesting and interaction of many levels of organization, but also as a key component of its structural stability. We will note as well that increasing organization, while increasing “order”, induces growing disorder, not only by energy dispersal effects, but also by increasing variability and differentiation. Finally, we discuss the co-operation between diverse components in biological networks; this co-operation implies the presence of constraints due to the particular nature of bio-entanglement and bio-resonance, two notions to be reviewed and defined in the paper.

References (see downloadable papers in http://www.di.ens.fr/users/longo )

Bailly F., Longo G. Mathematics and the Natural Sciences. The Physical Singularity of Life. Imperial College Press, London, 2011.

Longo G., Palamidessi C., Paul T..  Some bridging results and challenges in classical, quantum and computational randomness.  In "Randomness through Computation", H. Zenil (ed), World Sci., 2010.  

Buiatti M. , Longo G. Randomness and Multi-level Interactions in Biology. In print in Theory of Biosciences, TIBI-D-12-00030R1, 2013.

Longo G., Montévil M. Extended Criticality, Phase Spaces and Enablement in Biology. Invited Paper, Special Issue of Chaos, Solitons and Fractals, 2013.