The stochastic simulation algorithm commonly known as Gillespie’s algorithm (originally derived for modelling well-mixed systems of chemical reactions) is now used ubiquitously in the modelling of biological processes in which stochastic effects play an important role. In well-mixed scenarios at the sub-cellular level it is often reasonable to assume that times between successive reaction/interaction events are exponentially distributed and can be appropriately modelled as a Markov process and hence simulated by the Gillespie algorithm. However, Gillespie’s algorithm is routinely applied to model biological systems for which it was never intended. In particular, processes in which cell proliferation is important (e.g. embryonic development, cancer formation) should not be simulated naively using the Gillespie algorithm since the history-dependent nature of the cell cycle breaks the Markov process. The variance in experimentally measured cell cycle times is far less than in an exponential cell cycle time distribution with the same mean.
Bulletin of Mathematical Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 13, 2017
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