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Predicting the spread of the flu

The NY Times has had an article today on Sunday about predicting the spread of swine flu using a computer program with data on air traffic, commuter traffic, and the movement of dollar bills. I don’t know a lot about epidemiology, so I will leave it to others to comment on the intricacies, but I appreciate the idea of this sort of model, especially when they discussed adding in other human behavior factors that change the playing field (like closing schools and people becoming more germ-conscious).

I particularly liked the last paragraph in the article:
“…one thing remains true: ‘People have a very weird perception of large numbers,’ [Dirk Brockman, an engineering professor at Northwestern] said. ‘If you have 2,000 cases of flu in a country of 300 million, most people think they’re going to be one of the 2,000, not one of the 299,998,000.'”

One Comment

  1. Dan Katz says:

    A simple but user friendly version of the S.I.R. Model is available over at Computational Legal Studies Blog: