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Boolean networks are currently receiving considerable attention as a computational scheme for system level analysis and modeling of biological systems. Studying control-related problems in Boolean networks may reveal new insights into the intrinsic control in complex biological systems and enable us to develop strategies for manipulating biological systems using exogenous inputs. This paper considers controllability and observability of Boolean biological networks. We propose a new approach, which draws from the rich theory of symbolic computation, to solve the problems. Consequently, simple necessary and sufficient conditions for reachability, controllability, and observability are obtained, and algorithmic tests for controllability and observability which are based on the Gröbner basis method are presented. As practical applications, we apply the proposed approach to several different biological systems, namely, the mammalian cell-cycle network, the T-cell activation network, the large granular lymphocyte survival signaling network, and the segment polarity network, gaining novel insights into the control and/or monitoring of the specific biological systems.


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