# We all bleed the same color

In “Mathematical Models in Biology”, Leah Edelstein-Keshet presents a model describing the number of circulating red blood cells (RBC’s). It assumes that the spleen filters out and destroys a fraction of the cells daily while the bone marrow produces a amount proportional to the number lost on the previous day:

$\begin{cases} R_{n+1} = (1-f)R_n+M_n\\ M_{n+1} = \gamma f R_n\end{cases}(1)$

where

$R_n -$ number of RBC’s in circulation on day $n$,

$M_n -$ number of RBC’s produced by marrow on day $n$,

$f -$ fraction of RBC’s removed by the spleen,

$\gamma -$ numer of RBC’s produced per number lost.

What would be the cell count on the $n^{th}$ day?

Observe first that (1) is equivalent to

$R_{n+2} = (1-f)R_{n+1}+M_{n+1}\quad\quad\quad(2)$

where

$M_{n+1} = \gamma f R_n.\quad\quad\quad(3)$

Let $n = -1$,

$M_0=\gamma f R_{-1} \implies R_{-1} = \frac{M_0}{\gamma f}.\quad\quad\quad(4)$

Substituting (3) into (2) yields

$R_{n+2} = (1-f)R_{n+1}+\gamma f R_{n}.$

We proceed to solve the following initial-value problem using ‘solve_rec‘ (see “Solving Difference Equations using Omega CAS Explorer“):

$\begin{cases} R_{n+2}=(1-f)R_{n+1}+\gamma f R_{n}\\ R_{0}=1, R_{-1} = \frac{1}{\gamma f}\end{cases}$

Evaluate the solution with $f=\frac{1}{2}, g=1$, we have

$R_n = \frac{4}{3} + \frac{(-1)^{n+1}2^{-n}}{3}.\quad\quad\quad(5)$

Plotting (5) by ‘plot2d(4/3 + (-1)^(n+1)*2^(-n)/3, [n, 0, 10], WEB_PLOT)’ fails (see Fig. 1) since plot2d treats (5) as a continuous function whose domain includes number such as $\frac{1}{2}$.

Fig. 1

Instead, a discrete plot is needed:

Fig. 2

From Fig. 2 we see that $R_{n}$ converges to a value between $1.3$ and $1.35$. In fact,

$\lim\limits_{n \rightarrow \infty} \frac{4}{3} + \frac{(-1)^{n+1}2^{-n}}{3} = \frac{4}{3}\approx 1.3333....$