Equations of the End: Teaching Mathematical Modeling Using the Zombie Apocalypse.


Mathematical models of infectious diseases are a valuable tool in understanding the mechanisms and patterns of disease transmission. It is, however, a difficult subject to teach, requiring both mathematical expertise and extensive subject-matter knowledge of a variety of disease systems. In this article, we explore several uses of zombie epidemics to make mathematical modeling and infectious disease epidemiology more accessible to public health professionals, students, and the general public. We further introduce a web-based simulation, White Zed (, that can be deployed in classrooms to allow students to explore models before implementing them. In our experience, zombie epidemics are familiar, approachable, flexible, and an ideal way to introduce basic concepts of infectious disease epidemiology.

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