Zombie Math

Apocalyptic fiction scenarios have been with us since the beginning of recorded history beginning with the Epic of Gilgamesh and other flood mythologies such as the tale of Noah’s Ark. The Christian Book of revelations contains a number of scenarios and is the origin of the word apocalypse. From Wikipedia:

Further apocalyptic works appeared in the early Middle Ages. The 7th century Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius includes themes common in Christian eschatology; the Prophecy of the Popes has been ascribed to the 12th century Irish saint Malachy, but could possibly date from the late 16th century. Islamic eschatology, related to Christian and Jewish eschatological traditions, also emerged from the 7th century. Ibn al-Nafis‘s 13th century Theologus Autodidactus, an Arabic novel, used empirical science to explain Islamic eschatology

More recently, one of the most popular concepts of an apocalypse have involved Zombies, and the distrust inherent in the human interactions that follow. There is speculation as to why these tales are so popular, but one thing they all have in common is the simple good versus evil of all human-zombie interactions. The human-human interactions are stripped down to the most basic emotions of survival of the strongest (physically, intellectually, athleticism, etc).

A few years ago, a group from Carleton University and the University of Ottawa mathematically modelled the progression of a zombie infestation, the probability of human survival on a population scale, and the best high level tactics for combating the threat. The paper was published in 2009 and the math really isn’t that complicated. The full pdf is here.
When Zombies Attack! Mathematical Modelling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection
Philip Munz, Ioan Hudea, Joe Imad, Robert J. Smith?

Abstract

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.

Just another way to while away some time that you could be using to actually do something productive.

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