Recently I've been reading "The Wild Book" which applies semigroup theory to, among other things, chemical reactions. If I google for mathematics and chemistry together, most of the results are to do with physical chemistry: cond-mat, fluids, QM of molecules, and analysis of spectra. I'm more interested in learning about biochemistry, molecular biology, and organic chemistry — and would prefer to learn from a mathematical perspective.

What other books aim to teach (bio- || organic) chemistry specifically to those with a mathematical background?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Graph theory turns up a lot in, say, isomer enumeration, as well as the proper nomenclature of polycyclic molecules. (Point-)group theory becomes a bit important when you consider the Woodward-Hoffmann rules... $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 8, 2011 at 16:46
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ ...but oh yeah, on the matter of books: I'm not quite sure there are that many books considering organic chemistry from a mathematical perspective; after all organikers prefer to get their hands dirty with experiments, as opposed to theorizing how electrophile so-and-so will attack some substrate... that is, unless they're at the stage of justifying why they got a particular product and not the expected one. In any event, you'll want to see this and this... $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 8, 2011 at 16:50
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think the title of this question is the wrong way around. It should read "Mathematical aspects in organic chemistry". $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 8, 2011 at 18:48
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @ChristianBlatter But that's not what I'm looking for. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2011 at 6:47
  • $\begingroup$ You might be interested in some of the writings of Gromov. Firstly, Gromov is one of the greatest mathematicians of the last 50 years. Secondly, he has recently turned his thoughts on applying topological and geometric ideas to biology. I cannot claim that you will understand any of his work, but it all makes me smile... $\endgroup$
    – user1729
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 14:51

2 Answers 2


(1) Because my monograph:

S. Fujita, Symmetry and Combinatorial Enumeration in Chemistry (Springer 1991)

has been referred to as an endeavor of dealing with topics of organic chemistry on the basis of mathematics, I would like to add two monographs aiming at organic reactions and stereochemistry coupled with mathematics (group theory):

S. Fujita, Computer-Oriented Representation of Organic Reactions (Yoshioka Shoten, Kyoto, 2001)

S. Fujita, Diagrammatical Approach to Molecular Symmetry and Enumeration of Stereoisomers (University of Kragujevac, Kragujevac, 2007)

which have appeared more recently. The first and the third books are concerned with Fujita's unit-subduced-cycle-index (USCI) method for symmetry-itemized enumeration of 3D structures as well as graphs.

(2) For a more recent publication (not a book) on interdisciplinary topics between mathematics and chemistry, I would like to introduce an account article, which is freely available:

S. Fujita, "Numbers of Alkanes and Monosubstituted Alkanes. A Long-Standing Interdisciplinary Problem over 130 Years" (Bull. Chem. Soc. Japan, 83, 1--18 (2010), access-free).

This account deals with combinatorical enumeration of three-dimensional trees, where trees as graphs are extended to 3D trees having 3D structures.

(3) Another book on interdisciplinary topics between mathematics and chemistry:

S. Fujita, Combinatorial Enumeration of Graphs, Three-Dimensional Structures, and Chemical Compounds (University of Kragujevac, Kragujevac, 2013),

has published to introduce Fujita's proligand method (Chapter 7), which provides us with a powerful tool for gross enumeration of 3D structures. This is a substantial extension of Polya's theorem, which aims at gross enumeration of graphs.

The landmark article on Polya's theorem appeared originally in 1937 and was translated into English in 1987 (after 50 years!):

G. Polya and R. C. Read, Combinatorial Enumeration of Groups, Graphs, and Chemical Compounds (Springer, 1987).

As found in their book titles, chemical compounds are regarded as three-dimensional structures in Fujita's book, while they are regarded as graphs in Polya-Read's book. This difference is critical to discuss stereochemistry:

S. Fujita, Sphericities of Cycles. What Polya's Theorem is Deficient in for Stereoisomer Enumeration
(Croat. Chem. Acta, 79, 411--427 (2006), access-free).

(4) A further book on interdisciplinary topics between mathematics and chemistry has appeared recently:

S. Fujita, Mathematical Stereochemistry (De Gruyter, Berlin, 2015). xviii + 437pp

This book deals with Fujita's stereoisogram approach, where RS-stereoisomers as new concepts are represented by stereoisograms diagrammatically.


Organic chemistry

S. Fujita's "Symmetry and combinatorial enumeration in chemistry" (Springer-Verlag, 1991) is one such endeavor. It mainly focuses on stereochemistry.

Molecular biology and biochemistry

A. Carbone and M. Gromov's "Mathematical slices of molecular biology" is recommended, although it is not strictly a book.

R. Phillips, J. Kondev and J. Theriot have published "Physical biology of the cell", which contains biochemical topics (such as structures of hemoglobin) and is fairly accessible to mathematicians in my opinion.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @pharmine. I haven't "Accepted" your answer because I want to see if more will come in. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 9, 2011 at 6:48
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @LaoTzu I think you can accept it now. $\endgroup$
    – draks ...
    Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 12:54

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .