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How computer science can keep you healthy

This summer (2015) I’ve given a couple of 1-hour presentations to secondary students on using computers to model diseases: to visiting US high school students in June, and at the STEM club of Kilgraston School in September.

Computational epidemiology is the use of mathematical and computational techniques to model how diseases spread. This is important for answering a number of questions. How infectious are different diseases? Why are different populations affected differently? How do different treatment regimes work? Is quarantine effective? We can address these sorts of questions using a range of different techniques, ranging from differential equations (calculus) for simple cases through to complex networks and high-performance simulation for complex case — and possibly even modelling real diseases in real-world geographies in real time.

This lecture is an interactive introduction to these ideas. We’ll explore how diseases spread; conduct an experiment where we infect each other (kind of); and then see how different aspects of computer science help us to explore diseases and their treatment.


  • Slides (PDF and ODP)
  • A video of a simulated epidemic spreading

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