Studying Viral Populations with Tools from Quantum Spin Chains

Saumya Shivam, Christopher L. Baldwin, John Barton, Mehran Kardar, S. L. Sondhi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We study Eigen’s model of quasi-species (Eigen in Selforganization of matter and the evolution of biological macromolecules. Naturwissenschaften 58(10):465, 1971), characterized by sequences that replicate with a specified fitness and mutate independently at single sites. The evolution of the population vector in time is then closely related to that of quantum spins in imaginary time. We employ multiple perspectives and tools from interacting quantum systems to examine growth and collapse of realistic viral populations, specifically considering excessive mutations in certain HIV proteins. All approaches used, including the simplest perturbation theory, give consistent results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number38
JournalJournal of Statistical Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics


  • Biological evolution
  • HIV
  • Quantum spin chains


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