Computational biologists are striving to "reverse engineer" the underlying networks of interactions between the molecules in the cell. This volume and the conference it reports on attempt a systematic evaluation of reverse engineering methods. The DREAM project brings together a diverse group of researchers to clarify potentials and limitations of the enterprise of reverse engineering cellular networks. An important aspiration of the project is to compare the effectiveness of different methods in reverse engineering biological networks. Evaluating this requires a "gold standard" network for which at least the true topology of connections is known. Many participants, especially the computational biologists, believe that synthetic networks are good candidates for this purpose because, at least for now, only they can be described with certainty. Experimental biologists, however, worry that unless the project addresses real biological networks, it could evolve into a mathematical exercise with little impact on biology. These and other ideas are discussed.
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