Copyright © 2005 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the
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Local rules theory describes virus capsid self-assembly in terms of simple local binding preferences of discrete subunit conformations. The theory offered a parsimonious explanation for the complexity and regularity of virus capsids that resolved several inconsistencies between experimental observations and prior theories. Simultaneously, it provided a valuable practical abstraction for simulating the assembly process. Local rule models offered important advantages over other methods in rapidly developing simulations of complex geometries and assembly processes. Subsequent extensions considerably augmented the range of assembly phenomena amenable to simulation studies. Here we review the development of local rule-based simulation models and their applications to basic biology and medicine. We conclude by discussing the future prospects of local rule models for in silico experimentation with capsid assembly.