The final write-ups for final group projects are due Monday, December 1st, 2014. On Dec 2nd and 3rd students will meet with Prof Towers to receive feedback on their project and writeup.
Each of the project groups will perform an in-class 20 min presentation on Monday, Dec 8th, 2014 and Wed, Dec 10th, 2014. By Dec 9th, all group members are to submit to Prof Towers a confidential email, detailing their contribution to the group project, and detailing the contributions of the other group members.
The list of modules for the Fall 2014 course in computational and statistical methods for mathematical biologists and epidemiologists:
Google Scholar is search engine that indexes the scholarly literature across an array of publishing formats and disciplines. It provides a very powerful means to find literature associated with pretty much any research topic you can think of.
Connecting mathematical models to predicting reality usually involves comparing your model to data, and finding model parameters that make the model most closely match observations in data. And of course statistical models are wholly developed using sources of data.
Becoming adept at finding sources of data relevant to a model you are studying is a learned skill, but unfortunately one that isn’t taught in any textbook!
One thing to keep in mind is that any data that appears in a journal publication is fair game to use, even if it appears in graphical format only. If the data is in graphical format, there are freeprograms, such as DataThief, that can be used to extract the data into a numerical file.
[In this module we discuss methods for finding free sources of online data. We present examples of climate, population, and socio-economic data from a variety of online sources. Other sources of potentially useful data are also discussed. The data sources described here are by no means an exhaustive list of free online data that might be useful to use in a computational, statistical, or mathematical modeling study.]Continue reading →
[After you have read through this module, and have downloaded and worked through the provided R examples, you should be proficient enough in R to be able to download and run other R scripts that will be provided in other posts on this site. You should understand the basics of good programming practices (in any language, not just R). You will also have learned how to read data in a file into a table in R, and produce a plot.]
I have programmed in many different computing and scripting languages, but the ones I most commonly use on a day to day basis are C++, Fortran, Perl, and R (with some Python, Java, and Ruby on the side). In particular, I use R every day because it is not only a programming language, but also has graphics and a very large suite of statistical tools. Connecting models to data is a process that requires statistical tools, and R provides those tools, plus a lot more.
Unlike SAS, Stata, SPSS, and Matlab, R is free and open source (it is hard to beat a package that is more comprehensive than pretty much any other product out there and is free!).
[After reading through this module you should have an intuitive understanding of how infectious disease spreads in the population, and how that process can be described using a compartmental model with flow between the compartments. You should be able to write down the differential equations of a simple disease model, and you will learn in this module how to numerically solve those differential equations in R to obtain the model estimate of the epidemic curve]
Models of disease spread can yield insights into the mechanisms and dynamics most important to the spread of disease (especially when the models are compared to epidemic data). With this improved understanding, more effective disease intervention strategies can potentially be developed. Sometimes disease models are also used to forecast the course of an epidemic, and doing exactly that for the 2009 pandemic was my introduction to the field of computational epidemiology.
There are lots of different ways to model epidemics, and there are several modules on this site on the topic, but let’s begin with one of the simplest epidemic models for an infectious disease like influenza: the Susceptible, Infected, Recovered (SIR) model.
[After reading through this module, students should have an understanding of contact dynamics in a population with age structure (eg; kids and adults). You should understand how population age structure can affect the spread of infectious disease. You should be able to write down the differential equations of a simple SIR disease model with age structure, and you will learn in this module how to solve those differential equations in R to obtain the model estimate of the epidemic curve]
In a previous module I discussed epidemic modelling with a simple Susceptible, Infected, Recovered (SIR) compartmental model. The model presented had only a single age class (ie; it was homogenous with respect to age). But in reality, when we consider disease transmission, age likely does matter because kids usually make more contacts during the day than adults. The differences in contact patterns between age groups can have quite a profound impact on the model estimate of the epidemic curve, and also have implications for development of optimal disease intervention strategies (like age-targeted vaccination, social distancing, or closing schools). Continue reading →
[After going through this module, students will be familiar with time-dependent transmission rates in a compartmental SIR model, will have explored some of the complex dynamics that can be created when the transmission is not constant, and will understand applications to the modelling of influenza pandemics.]
Influenza is a seasonal disease in temperate climates, usually peaking in the winter. This implies that the transmission of influenza is greater in the winter (whether this is due to increased crowding and higher contact rates in winter, and/or due to higher transmissibility of the virus due to favorable environmental conditions in the winter is still being discussed in the literature). What is very interesting about influenza is that sometimes summer epidemic waves can be seen with pandemic strains (followed by a larger autumn wave). An SIR model with a constant transmission rate simply cannot replicate the annual dual wave nature of an influenza pandemic.
In the Arizona State University AML610 course “Computational and Statistical Methods in Applied Mathematics”, we will be ultimately be using super computing resources at ASU and the NSF XSEDE initiative to fit the parameters of a biological model to data. To do this, it is necessary to know basic Unix commands to copy, rename, and delete files and directories, and how to list directories and locate files. We will also be compiling all our C++ programs from the Unix shell, and in the command line directing the output of our programs to files. Continue reading →
[After reading this module, students should understand the Least Squares goodness-of-fit statistic. Students will be able to read an influenza data set from a comma delimited file into R, and understand the basic steps involved in the graphical Monte Carlo method to fit an SIR model to the data to estimate the R0 of the influenza strain by minimizing the Least Squares statistic. Students will be aware that parameter estimates have uncertainties associated with them due to stochasticity (randomness) in the data.]
When a new virus starts circulating in the population, one of the first questions that epidemiologists and public health officials want answered is the value of the reproduction number of the spread of the disease in the population (see, for instance, here and here).
The length of the infectious period can roughly be estimated from observational studies of infected people, but the reproduction number can only be estimated by examination of the spread of the disease in the population. When early data in an epidemic is being used to estimate the reproduction number, I usually refer to this as “real-time” parameter estimation (ie; the epidemic is still ongoing at the time of estimation).
[This presentation discusses methods commonly used to optimize the parameters of a mathematical model for population or disease dynamics to pertinent data. Parameter optimization of such models is complicated by the fact that usually they have no analytic solution, but instead must be solved numerically. Choice of an appropriate "goodness of fit" statistic will be discussed, as will the benefits and drawbacks of various fitting methods such as gradient descent, Markov Chain Monte Carlo, and Latin Hypercube and random sampling. An example of the application of the some of the methods using simulated data from a simple model for the incidence of a disease in a human population will be presented]
The simplest, and often used, figure of merit for goodness of fit is the Least Squares statistic (aka Residual Sum of Squares), wherein the model parameters are chosen that minimize the sum of squared differences between the model prediction and the data. For N data points, Y^data_i (where i=1,…,N), and model predictions at those points, Y^model_i, the statistic is calculated as (note that the model prediction depends on the model parameters):
This course is meant to provide students in applied mathematics with the broad skill-set needed to optimize model parameters to relevant biological or epidemic data. The course will almost entirely be based on material posted on this website. Continue reading →
In Homework#7 of the 2014 fall AML610 course, we discussed an example where we had a time series of data for a disease vector, V, that can spread disease to a human population. Once the humans catch the disease, they recover after 1/gamma days and moved to the recovered compartment.
In a past module, we examined how we could use methods in the R deSolve to fit the parameters of an SIR model to confirmed cases of influenza B in the Midwest region during the 2007-2008 flu season (the data were obtained from the CDC). In that module, we used a Least Squares goodness-of-fit estimator. Continue reading →