zombie-sizr-model.jpg

Setting the differential equations equal to zero gives braaaaaaaaiiiiiiins

By Seth Freilich | Miscellaneous | August 17, 2009 | Comments ()

By Seth Freilich | Miscellaneous | August 17, 2009 |


zombie-sizr-model.jpg

I don't know anything about Carleton University or The University of Ottawa except that they're in Canada (eh). And that they employ awesome faculty members in their math departments. And four of said faculty members recently published an 18-page paper called "When Zombies Attack!: Mathematical Modeling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection."

As the article's abstract explains, they looked at three zombie scenarios:

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.

The biggest problem with this paper is a practical one. They decided to focus on your more dumb slow-and-steady zombies, rather than your smarter ragey-lickety-split zombies, and they don't offer a particularly compelling reason why:

The zombie that we chose to model was characterised best by the popular-culture zombie. The basic assumptions help to form some guidelines as to the specific type of zombie we seek to model (which will be presented in the next section). The model zombie is of the classical pop-culture zombie: slow moving, cannibalistic and undead. There are other 'types' of zombies, characterized by some movies like 28 Days Later and the 2004 re-make of Dawn of the Dead. These 'zombies' can move faster, are more independent and much smarter than their classical counterparts. While we are trying to be as broad as possible in modeling zombies - especially since there are many varieties - we have decided not to consider these individuals.

See, but the problem is, I'm of the mindset that when the zombies come, they're much more likely to be of the run-and-grab variety, so that's what I want as the basis of my nerdtastic scholarly papers, damn it. I need practical application!

In any event, you can snag a PDF of the paper from this link, with a hat tip to io9. And in the meantime, for your entertainment:


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