I have come across a modeling toolbox, ATLANTIS, which is able to determine cell fates in silico based on the input models provided. This MATLAB-based toolbox is built on a method called "Attractor Landscape Analysis." I tried to find a paper dedicated to explaining this method but I did not have any luck so far. Can any of you folks please explain it to me, especially the term "attractor"?


From Wikipedia: In the mathematical field of dynamical systems, an attractor is a set of numerical values toward which a system tends to evolve, for a wide variety of starting conditions of the system.

In biology you can think of an attractor as a state towards the system is moving to. A good example is the process of differentiation where stem cells compromise to more specialized cells, that could be thought as the attractors of the process.

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  • $\begingroup$ The problem I have is attractor theory was derived from chaos theory. If you didn't know that you should. You need to understand the 3 components of chaos theory. BTW, the word "evolve" is a total misuse of the term 'evolution' and is not even used in chaos theory. If you are not prepared to understand chaos theory you will not understand attractor theory. $\endgroup$ – M__ Mar 22 '19 at 13:00
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelG. can you please recommed a good resource to understand chaos theory in the context of biological sciences? $\endgroup$ – Osaama Shehzad Mar 22 '19 at 14:03
  • $\begingroup$ Any basic text book will summarise chaos theory, even very basic popular science (Dummies Guide to Chaos, type books). My information is rooted in Darwinian selection vs. chaos theory, and unless you are an evolutionist you wouldn't understand what the debate was about, who won the debate and why. $\endgroup$ – M__ Mar 22 '19 at 16:05
  • $\begingroup$ Oh sorry and ignore anything on fractals, it's not relevant. $\endgroup$ – M__ Mar 23 '19 at 2:06
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelG. this video explains Chaos and Attractor Theory beautifully. youtube.com/watch?v=cwaRtew-CIU . However, I might have confused myself with the definitions of "internal noise" and "external perturbations." In the context of biology, can you please explain the difference between the two? $\endgroup$ – Osaama Shehzad Mar 23 '19 at 6:27

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