MATH 490-01: Mathematics + Disease

Fall 2020

Instructor: James Nolen

This special-topics course will focus on mathematical modeling and analysis related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has spread rapidly around the world. The mathematical content will include selected topics from ordinary differential equations (nonlinear systems) and from probability (Markov chains), as well as data analysis tools.

Students will study current mathematical models that are being used by epidemiologists and mathematicians to understand the spread of the virus and the potential effect of mitigation strategies. If time permits, students will also discuss mathematical modeling and analysis of other infectious diseases (e.g. influenza, HIV) and non-infectious diseases (e.g. cancer growth).

The course is ideal for students interested in mathematics, public health and/or medicine. The course will be a unique opportunity to learn some of the very many ways that mathematics and mathematical modeling can be used to understand contemporary scientific problems and the complex world around us. Students will apply these tools to understand real data that has been generated during this epidemic, and they will be able to understand and analyze current research in this area.

Prerequisites: Students should have taken a Linear Algebra course (either Math 216 or 221) and a Probability course (either Math 230 or 340). A previous course on differential equations is not required; that content will be introduced during the course. There will be some computational exercises, so students are expected to have some basic ability with either MATLAB or Python (or be willing to learn along the way).

Curriculum Codes