Colloquium Ehrenfestii - Alessandro Vespignani (Northeastern, Boston, USA): "Modeling of epidemics: from the physics of reaction-diffusion processes to infectious disease forecast"



19:30 hrs


De Sitterzaal, Leiden


Title Modeling of epidemics: from the physics of reaction-diffusion processes to infectious disease forecast”


Mathematical and computational methods have gained importance in the public-health domain, especially in epidemic modeling, by providing quantitative analysis in support of the policy-making processes. At the same time, the epidemic modeling metaphor has been introduced to describe a wide array of different phenomena. The spread of information, cultural norms, and social behavior can be all conceptually modeled as a contagion process. Although the basic mechanisms of each phenomenon are different, their effective mathematical description often defines similar constitutive equations and dynamical behaviors framed in the general theory of reaction-diffusion processes. In this lecture I will review the theoretical framework developed in recent years to understand the dynamic of reaction-diffusion processes in expanded schemes that explicitly include the many realistic features that characterize human mobility behavior, and complex interactions patterns. I will also discuss how this framework is at the core of data-driven computational approaches that, through the integration of large-scale data sets and the explicit simulation of entire populations down to the scale of single individuals, are successfully used in the analysis and forecast of real epidemics.

Please Note: The Colloquium Ehrenfestii takes place on Wednesday evenings starting at 19:30 hours in the main auditorium of the Oort building. Before the Colloquium, there is a common dinner in the canteen located on the ground floor of the Oort building. This dinner starts at 18:00 hours sharp and is FREE of charge, under the condition that one attends the colloquium and that one has made a reservation before noon on the Tuesday preceding the colloquium. 

The registration form is only accessible from within the University (to block spammers); if you would like to register for the dinner from outside the University, please send an email to   The revolving doors to the Oort building  are accessible until 9 pm after that they are locked and one should instead use the sliding doors directly adjacent to the Huygens building: these can be opened with an electronic key (seek help from locals).