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Mathematical descriptions of birth-death-movement processes are often calibrated to measurements from cell biology experiments to quantify tissue growth rates. Here we describe and analyze a discrete model of a birth-death-movement process applied to a typical two-dimensional cell biology experiment. We present three different descriptions of the system: (i) a standard mean-field description which neglects correlation effects and clustering; (ii) a moment dynamics description which approximately incorporates correlation and clustering effects; and (iii) averaged data from repeated discrete simulations which directly incorporates correlation and clustering effects. Comparing these three descriptions indicates that the mean-field and moment dynamics approaches are valid only for certain parameter regimes, and that both these descriptions fail to make accurate predictions of the system for sufficiently fast birth and death rates where the effects of spatial correlations and clustering are sufficiently strong. Without any method to distinguish between the parameter regimes where these three descriptions are valid, it is possible that either the mean-field or moment dynamics model could be calibrated to experimental data under inappropriate conditions, leading to errors in parameter estimation. In this work we demonstrate that a simple measurement of agent clustering and correlation, based on coordination number data, provides an indirect measure of agent correlation and clustering effects, and can therefore be used to make a distinction between the validity of the different descriptions of the birth-death-movement process. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original publication




Journal article


Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications

Publication Date