Modeling Infection with Multi-agent Dynamics

Wen Dong, Katherine Heller, Alex 'Sandy' Pentland


Developing the ability to comprehensively study infections in small populations enables us to improve epidemic models and better advise individuals about potential risks to their health. We currently have a limited understanding of how infections spread within a small population because it has been difficult to closely track an infection within a complete community. The paper presents data closely tracking the spread of an infection centered on a student dormitory, collected by leveraging the residents’ use of cellular phones. The data are based on daily symptom surveys taken over a period of four months and proximity tracking through cellular phones. We demonstrate that using a Bayesian, discrete-time multi-agent model of infection to model real-world symptom reports and proximity tracking records gives us important insights about infections in small populations.

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