When Zombies Attack!

OTTAWA — A team of Canadian mathematicians have been picking their large, delectable brains over whether humankind could survive a zombie apocalypse.

Their conclusion?

“An outbreak of zombies infecting humans is likely to be disastrous, unless extremely aggressive tactics are employed against the undead,” says the paper, titled When Zombies Attack! Mathematical Modelling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection.

“Thus, if zombies arrive, we must act quickly and decisively to eradicate them before they eradicate us.”

Of course, the researchers — all mathematicians from Carleton University and the University of Ottawa — took their undead, flesh-eating topic with a large pinch of salt.

“If you look at it in a more realistic way, zombies are about the same as any other major infectious disease — they get out and we try to eliminate them,” said Joe Imad, a University of Ottawa mathematics student and one of the paper’s co-authors. “Modelling zombies would be the same as modelling swine flu, with some differences for sure, but it is much more interesting to read.”

Imad, Philip Munz, Ioan Hudea and Robert J. Smith, an assistant University of Ottawa math professor, researched zombies for several months. They used mathematical equations to map several types of outbreak, including a basic model where everyone becomes infected, a scenario where the outbreak was quarantined and a situation where a cure was developed.

They defined zombies as “a reanimated human corpse that feeds on living human flesh.”

The study is part of a book titled Infectious Disease Modelling Research Progress from Nova Publishers.

It’s sandwiched between Chapter 3, about drug treatment of patients with both tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, and Chapter 5, the mathematical modelling of the epidemiology of malaria.

The paper’s bibliography included such sources as Compartmental Models in Epidemiology and the 1968 film Night of the Living Dead.

As outlandish as the subject may seem, the researchers say there is a real-life application.

“This is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the first mathematical analysis of an outbreak of zombie infection,” says the paper. “While the scenarios considered are obviously not realistic, it is nevertheless instructive to develop mathematical models for an unusual outbreak. This demonstrates the flexibility of mathematical modelling and shows how modelling can respond to a wide variety of challenges in ‘biology.'”

Imad said he and his colleagues received a “pretty good” grade on the project.

Source: Canwest News Service

If you want to read the entire paper… be my guest.


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