Things Mathematicians See at the Movies

Most moviegoers don’t notice the math in popular films, but it’s there if you know what to look for. For example, one mathematician compared the spread of zombies to that of infectious diseases.
The problem of zombies intrigued Philip Munz of Carleton University and his colleagues at the University of Ottawa, who recently wrote a scientific paper quantifying various properties of zombie epidemics. Standard modeling techniques for disease outbreaks weren’t quite sufficient, the authors found. “The key difference between the models presented here and other models of infectious disease,” they wrote, “is that the dead can come back to life.”

After a thorough, if tongue-in-cheek, analysis, the authors found that the optimal method for halting such epidemics involves killing zombies early and often - the rare scientific paper that satisfies both the splatter-film aficionado and the Centers for Disease Control.

Other math questions come up in The Dark Knight, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and other films you are familiar with. Link -via Buzzfeed

(image credit: Flickr user joelf)

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