Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Zombies, Math and Modeling

Given the imminent threat of a zombie outbreak, it is good to know that some mathematicians/epidemiologists are taking zombies seriously. In Munz et al (2009) "WHEN ZOMBIES ATTACK!: MATHEMATICAL MODELLING OF AN OUTBREAK OF ZOMBIE INFECTION" recently published in an edited volume (Infectious Disease Modelling Research Progress) [and yes, the last author's last name really has a question mark at the end. see: http://www.mathstat.uottawa.ca/~rsmith/ ). According to their model, only quick aggressive attacks have a chance of staving off the end of the world. The abstract describes it all:

Zombies are a popular figure in pop culture/entertainment and they are usually

portrayed as being brought about through an outbreak or epidemic. Consequently,

we model a zombie attack, using biological assumptions based on popular zombie

movies. We introduce a basic model for zombie infection, determine equilibria and

their stability, and illustrate the outcome with numerical solutions. We then refine the

model to introduce a latent period of zombification, whereby humans are infected, but

not infectious, before becoming undead. We then modify the model to include the

effects of possible quarantine or a cure. Finally, we examine the impact of regular,

impulsive reductions in the number of zombies and derive conditions under which

eradication can occur. We show that only quick, aggressive attacks can stave off the

doomsday scenario: the collapse of society as zombies overtake us all.

This graph says it all:


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