Abstract

Predictive biology is elusive because rigorous, data-constrained, mechanistic models of complex biological systems are difficult to derive and validate. Current approaches tend to construct and examine static interaction network models, which are descriptively rich, but often lack explanatory and predictive power, or dynamic models that can be simulated to reproduce known behavior. However, in such approaches implicit assumptions are introduced as typically only one mechanism is considered, and exhaustively investigating all scenarios is impractical using simulation. To address these limitations, we present a methodology based on automated formal reasoning, which permits the synthesis and analysis of the complete set of logical models consistent with experimental observations. We test hypotheses against all candidate models, and remove the need for simulation by characterizing and simultaneously analyzing all mechanistic explanations of observed behavior. Our methodology transforms knowledge of complex biological processes from sets of possible interactions and experimental observations to precise, predictive biological programs governing cell function.