Markov models of aging: theory and practice
Steinsaltz, D., Mohan, G. and Kolb, M. (2012) Markov models of aging: theory and practice. Experimental Gerontology, 47 (10). pp. 792-802. ISSN 0531-5565
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.exger.2012.06.007
We review and structure some of the mathematical and statistical models that have been developed over the past half century to grapple with theoretical and experimental questions about the stochastic development of aging over the life course. We suggest that the mathematical models are in large part addressing the problem of partitioning the randomness in aging: How does aging vary between individuals, and within an individual over the lifecourse? How much of the variation is inherently related to some qualities of the individual, and how much is entirely random? How much of the randomness is cumulative, and how much is merely short-term flutter? We propose that recent lines of statistical inquiry in survival analysis could usefully grapple with these questions, all the more so if they were more explicitly linked to the relevant mathematical and biological models of aging. To this end, we describe points of contact among the various lines of mathematical and statistical research. We suggest some directions for future work, including the exploration of information-theoretic measures for evaluating components of stochastic models as the basis for analyzing experiments and anchoring theoretical discussions of aging.