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UW-L math professors prepare zombie attacks, calculus talk

Published On: Oct 28 2013 12:12:03 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 28 2013 12:29:52 PM CDT
Zombie, The Walking Dead
LA CROSSE, WI -

Two UW-La Crosse math professors are inviting the public to their talk on Wednesday night that they say will demonstrate how mathematical models can be used to predict how zombies and vampires could take over the human population.

Robert Allen and James Peirce’s talk is titled, “Zombies, Vampires and Math, Oh My!” It will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, October 30 in 100 Crowley Hall. Costumes are encouraged.

“The monsters are scary, but the mathematical models aren’t scary. It’s a tool — like anything else,” Allen said.

Allen, who turned the zombie question into a class project in Calculus 1, says replacing the zombies and vampires with infections, such as swine flu or SARS turn the computation into one with much more serious implications.

“We use the fun metaphors or zombies and vampires, but I hope students can see that they can use math as a tool to understand something important and relevant to their lives — in this case, how an infectious disease spreads through a population,” Allen said.

During the presentation, Allen and Peirce will use calculus equations and map the results on a computer-generated map. They said you don’t need to know calculus to understand their presentation.

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