Elements of Mathematical Biology

Elements of Mathematical Biology

Elements of Mathematical Biology

Elements of Mathematical Biology

Excerpt

The preface is that part of a book which is written last, placed first, and read least. As I approach my concluding task I am moved to reflect why a preface should be written at all. This question, if followed into all the intricacies of which it holds potentiality, should apparently result in a composition new in literature, a Preface to the Preface. Such precedent should not be lightly established, for it suggests a vista of future degenerations after the pattern of Josiah Royce's infinite succession of maps, each containing within itself its own replica on a reduced scale. But without going to such lengths as this, the philosophy of the preface may perhaps briefly be summarized to this effect, that it is the author's subjective introduction to the more objective matter that should follow. Here he may, if this is deemed of any interest, say something regarding the circumstances that gave origin to the work, and the conditions under which it came into being. He may express his feelings as to its alleged purpose, and may follow custom by giving voice to pious wishes as to the function which the product of his presumptive mind may fulfill in an Universe in which no event, however trivial--be it no more than the addition of one more book to the groaning library shelves--is without distant reverberations.

As to origin, the first plan of the work was laid about 1902, in the author's student days in Leipzig. The development of the topic is recorded, in outline, in various publications, of which the first appeared in 1907 in the American Journal of Science. Reference to this and to its various sequels will be found in pertinent places in the text that follows. The last stage of the work, arrangement of the matter in collected form, and filling in the flesh about the skeleton framework elaborated in the journal literature, was carried out at the Johns Hopkins University upon the invitation of the Department of Biometry and Vital Statistics. For the courtesies so extended to him the author wishes here to express his thanks, as well as for the interest shown in the progress of the work by Dr. Raymond Pearl and the members of the Department, notably Drs. W. T. Howard, L. J. Reed and J. R. Miner. Outside the walls of . . .

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