Applied mathematics

I attended a colloquium talk today by one of our Math/CS students, who attended the Applied Mathematical Sciences Summer Institute doing research work on developing deterministic and stochastic models of susceptible/infective epidemics.   After presenting her team’s work on modeling the spread of an epidemic from the “infectives” to the “susceptibles,” she remarked that, in practice, to halt an epidemic in its tracks, health agencies often use preventative quarantines.

“After all,” the speaker  remarked,  “an epidemic ends when there are no more suspectibles.   We can model this outcome two different ways: either the entire population becomes infective, or all the remaining non-infected suspectibles become quarantined at some point in time.   Therefore, in this model, we consider the quarantine of suspectibles.”

“Doesn’t one usually quarantine the sick rather than the healthy?” asked one of the professors.

“Isn’t that the  the same thing?   Just cram all the suspectibles into a room and declare them outside.”

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