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On Growth and Form

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On Growth and Form is a book by the Scottish mathematical biologist D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson (1860–1948). The book is long – 793 pages in the first edition of 1917, 1116 pages in the second edition of 1942.

Title page of first edition

Thompson with a bird skeleton. He studied the structures of organisms, seeking explanations for their forms.

Thompson analyses the polyhedral forms of Radiolaria from the Challenger expedition drawn by Ernst Haeckel, 1904.

Models used (by William Froude) to show that the drag on a hull varies with square root of waterline length

Mathematical and theoretical biology

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Mathematical and theoretical biology, or biomathematics, is a branch of biology which employs theoretical analysis, mathematical models and abstractions of living organisms to investigate the principles that govern the structure, development and behavior of the systems, as opposed to experimental biology which deals with the conduction of experiments to test scientific theories. The field is sometimes called mathematical biology or biomathematics to stress the mathematical side, or theoretical biology to stress the biological side. Theoretical biology focuses more on the development of theoretical principles for biology while mathematical biology focuses on the use of mathematical tools to study biological systems, even though the two terms are sometimes interchanged.

Image: Cell cycle bifurcation diagram