Friday, January 30, 2009

Really cool SIR model demonstration

Some of you may be familiar with the programming software Mathematica, which has many tools for manipulating and visualizing mathematical models. Now before you zone out, take a look at this: an interactive visualization of the SIR epidemic disease model that allows you to see how changing parameters like number of contacts and fraction immune affects disease dynamics. You can play with the sliders to change parameter values, and the graph of the number of susceptibles and infecteds changes automatically. It is a very cool way to get an intuitive handle on how the SIR model works. Think about how the quantities you can manipulate in the Mathematica demonstration relate to the parameters we discussed in class: beta and gamma. Note that the model they use does not have a Recovered/Removed class--only susceptible and infected.

In order to play with the demonstration, you have to download a free copy of Mathematica Player 7 (the site will walk you through it when you click on the demonstration). It is totally worth it because I'm telling you, this demonstration is cool and it will really help you understand how the epidemic model works. If you get into it you can search Mathematica's demonstration website and find other cool ones. It's good geeky Friday fun.

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