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The role of noise in simulating biophysical phenomena

Study level

Master of Philosophy


Faculty/Lead unit

Science and Engineering Faculty

Science and Engineering Faculty

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Pamela Burrage
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty


How should noise in biological applications be interpreted? As white noise? Coloured noise,
using Stochastic Differential Equations (SDEs)? Or as random noise with representation by
Random Ordinary Differential Equations (RODEs)?

This project will explore how RODEs and SDEs are used in computational biology, along with the
development of numerical algorithms for solving such differential equations. It will compare and
contrast the dynamics obtained with those from the different approaches, and investigate
implementation strategies and stability issues.

There are subtle modelling and simulation issues when using these alternative representations of
noise. This project will explore modelling, simulation and calibration aspects within this context,
as applied to biological and physiological applications or natural resource modelling.

Research activities

In this project you will explore the inclusion of different forms of noise, and compare and contrast the systems dynamics that you observe.

You will need to understand how to code and implement an algorithm and interpret the output.  This will include explorations of stability and the build-up of numerical error.


The aim of the project is to develop an understanding of how noise is or should be represented in a differential equation system, and how this representation affects the system dynamics.

Skills and experience

This project requires strong programming skills (in MATLAB), and an understanding of the numerical solution of differential equations (both from using DE solvers in MATLAB and from implementing numerical algorithms).



Contact the supervisor for more information.