Zombies (and Differential Equations)

 A couple of years ago, Robert Smith? and collaborators published a paper on numerical modeling a zombie outbreak. The article got lots of press mileage, but I think that an important message did not shine through.

While I am sure that the authors are not getting ready for the coming zombie apocalypse (although others clearly are), the story is about how more realistic hazards, such as diseases, can be computationally modeled as they flow through a population, and this, as we all know, is governed by differential equations.

Why computational? Because (and this is not a fact we really make apparently to our undergraduate students) the vast majority of differential equations do not have analytic solutions, and we need to turn to the computer to model complex interactions.

And if I had the opportunity to study zombie outbreaks as an undergraduate, I am sure that learning about differential equations and computational approaches would have been a lot more fun.

Anyway, having watched a few zombie movies in my time, I felt there were a couple of problems with Smith?'s original model for the life-cycle (if that's the word) for zombies, and I coded up some models of my own, but as ever, time got the better of me.

However, others, such as here and here, clearly were thinking along the same lines. So, I'm going to use this blog to go through the model and check out the results. The goal is to see if we can come up with a scenario in which we will get some survivors (although, so far, this is not looking very likely).

The first real post will be coming soon, but for now, here's a picture;


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