Stochastic epidemic outbreaks: Why epidemics are like lasers

Ira B. Schwartz, Lora Billings

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Many diseases, such as childhood diseases, dengue fever, and West Nile virus, appear to oscillate randomly as a function of seasonal environmental or social changes. Such oscillations appear to have a chaotic bursting character, although it is still uncertain how much is due to random fluctuations. Such bursting in the presence of noise is also observed in driven lasers. In this talk, I will show how noise can excite random outbreaks in simple models of seasonally driven outbreaks, as well as lasers. The models for both population dynamics will be shown to share the same class of underlying topology, which plays a major role in the cause of observed stochastic bursting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-279
Number of pages14
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 2004
EventNoise in Complex Systems and Stochastic Dynamics II - Maspalomas
Duration: 26 May 200428 May 2004


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