Pathway Databases: A Case Study in Computational Symbolic Theories

Peter D. Karp
Bioinformatics Research Group
SRI International
pkarp @

Science 293:2040-4 (2001).


A pathway database (DB) is a DB that describes biochemical pathways, reactions, and enzymes. The EcoCyc pathway DB (see describes the metabolic, transport, and genetic-regulatory networks of Escherichia coli. EcoCyc is an example of a computational symbolic theory, which is a DB that structures a scientific theory within a formal ontology so that it is available for computational analysis. It is argued that by encoding scientific theories in symbolic form, we open new realms of analysis and understanding for theories that would otherwise be too large and complex for scientists to reason with effectively.

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