# FAQ

## What is Bio-Math? What is Mathematical Biology?

Mathematical Biology (or "BioMath" for short) is that branch of applied mathematics specifically concerned with answering biological questions and exploring biological mechanisms. There are some notable differences from `standard' applied mathematics. In mathematics applied to physics and engineering, mostly the governing equations and mechanisms are well known (e.g. the Navier-Stokes equations in fluid physics, or Maxwell's equations for electromagnetics, Newton's laws and Hamilton's principle in mechanics). Consequently the emphasis in mathematics applied in these fields is analyzing the solution and behavior of known equations in complex circumstances. Experiments tend to be aimed at measuring specific physical quantities, and are therefore very specific and technical. In biology and ecology, by contrast, there are seldom any accepted governing equations. What the governing mechanisms are, and how they may be represented mathematically, is part of the question. Consequently, BioMathematicians are often concerned with modeling, and whether or not a given model describes data. Additionally, biological systems thrive on and are dominated by variability. Consequently we end up dealing with some issues which are often regarded as statistical (e.g. how can we determine if one model is better than another, given the inherent uncertainties in the data?).