• Ronald W. Shonkwiler
  • James Herod
Part of the Undergraduate Texts in Mathematics book series (UTM)


One of the purposes of this chapter is to introduce the reader to the new mathematical field of algebraic statistics; cf. [5]. Among the many topics in biology in which algebraic statistics is making an impact, we have chosen phylogenetics as the vehicle for showcasing this new discipline. Our reasons are that phylogeny and cladistics are important semiclassical fields in biology (with beginnings in the mid-1950s) quite different from anything we have studied up to now; postgenomics phylogeny makes extensive use of algebraic statistics and demonstrates more of its techniques than other branches of biology; phylogeny draws heavily on genomic searches, which we studied in the last chapter, and hence reinforces what we investigated there; and phylogeny is related to several of the new fields of biology that have arisen with genomics that we outlined in the first section of the genomics chapter, Section 14.1. Algebraic statistics, as mentioned above, is a new branch of mathematics arising out of the many needs and uses of mathematics in genomics. Not surprisingly, the basic mathematics of algebraic statistics originates in the fields of algebra and statistics, but already new mathematics, inspired by the biology, has been created in the discipline. This chapter will take us to a higher level of mathematical abstraction, skill, and reasoning than in the other chapters of the book and is likewise more demanding. As in the earlier parts of the book, we make every effort to explain the mathematics we need from first principles, principles that one would encounter in two years of a college mathematics curriculum, one that includes linear algebra. Still, very little abstract algebra makes its way to this level, and so we pay extra attention to illustrate the ideas and terms with examples.


Phylogenetic Tree Leaf Node Fossil Record Branch Length Interior Node 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References and Suggested Further Reading

  1. [1]
    H. B. Stenzel, Successional speciation in paleontology: The case of the oysters of the sellaeformis stock, Evolution, 3 (1949), 3350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. [2]
    J. Felsenstein, Inferring Phylogenies, Sinauer, Sunderland, MA, 2004.Google Scholar
  3. [3]
    N. Eldredge and J. Cracraft, Phylogenetic Patterns and the Evolutionary Process, Columbia University Press, New York, 1980.Google Scholar
  4. [4]
    R. D. M. Page and E. C. Holmes, Molecular Evolution: A Phylogenetic Approach, Blackwell Science, Oxford, UK, 1998.Google Scholar
  5. [5]
    L. Pachter and B. Sturmfels, Algebraic Statistics for Computational Biology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2005.MATHGoogle Scholar
  6. [6]
    C. Zimmer, What is a species?, Sci. Amer., 298-6 2008, 7279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of MathematicsGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA

Personalised recommendations