Date of Award

8-1-2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Mathematics

First Advisor

Xu, Dashun

Abstract

Organisms have movements that are usually modeled by particles’ random walks. Under some mathematical technical assumptions the movements are described by diffusion equations. However, empirical data often show that the movements are not simple random walks. Instead, they are correlated random walks and are described by telegraph equations. This thesis considers telegraph equations with and without bias corresponding to correlated random walks with and without bias. Analytical solutions to the equations with absorbing boundary conditions and their mean passage times are obtained. Numerical simulations of the corresponding correlated random walks are also performed. The simulation results show that the solutions are approximated very well by the corresponding correlated random walks and the mean first passage times are highly consistent with those from simulations on the corresponding random walks. This suggests that telegraph equations can be a good model for organisms with the movement pattern of correlated random walks. Furthermore, utilizing the consistency of mean first passage times, we can estimate the parameters of telegraph equations through the mean first passage time, which can be estimated through experimental observation. This provides biologists an easy way to obtain parameter values. Finally, this thesis analyzes the velocity distribution and correlations of movement steps of amoebas, leaving fitting the movement data to telegraph equations as future work.

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