In the ultimate intersection of mathematics and pop culture, a group of mathematicians at the University of Ottawa, Canada, have published a paper modelling infectious disease outbreaks. The disease they use as an example? Zombiism.
Philip Munz, Ioan Hudea, Joe Imad and Robert J. Smith, have published “When Zombies Attack! Mathematical Modelling of a Zombie Outbreak!”
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 paper “When Zombies Attack!” is available in full as a PDF by clicking here.