Researchers Find Clue to Epidemics in 'Bursty' Social Behavior

Researchers from the New York University Tandon School of Engineering and Politecnico di Torino, Italy, have developed a mathematical model that could cure the potential to underestimate how quickly diseases spread. In contrast to the current models - which generally assume a constant rate of spread - the new model takes into account the propensity for individual social interactions to alternate between periods of latency and "bursty" episodes of intense activity. "Human social behavior is often prone to self-excitement..." explained co-author Maurizio Porfiri, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering as well as biomedical engineering at NYU Tandon. Co-authors are Alessandro Rizzo, a visiting professor at NYU Tandon and an associate professor of control engineering at Politecnico; and Lorenzo Zino, a visiting student at NYU Tandon and a Politecnico doctoral student.