Matematiikan ja tilastotieteen laitoksen kurssisivualue

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Mathematics of infectious diseases, fall 2015


Teacher: Eva Kisdi 

Scope: 10 cr

Type: Advanced studies

Teaching: This course is an introduction to mathematical modelling of the dynamics of infectious diseases in human and other populations. The course will be given as a book-reading course based on the recent textbook of Diekmann, Heesterbeek and Britton (see Course material), which approaches much of the material via problem-solving. Lectures and exercise classes are combined; next to traditional lectures, also students will present sections of the book, and will discuss the exercises.

Topics: basic models of epidemics (e.g. SIR); basic reproduction number (R0) and the initial outbreak; vaccination; the final size of an epidemic; stochastic modelling; endemic persistence; time to extinction; evolution of pathogens; epidemics in structured host populations; modelling the contact process (multi-level mixing, networks)

Prerequisites: Some familiarity with ordinary differential equations and elementary probability theory. Other mathematical tools will be developed in class as needed.


  •  First lecture: Friday 4 September

Teaching schedule and syllabus

Weeks 36-42 and 44-50, Monday and Friday 10-12 in room B322.

The detailed program (including presentations and homework exercises) is given in the syllabus and in the presentation assignments (both are updated as the course proceeds).


Written exam with problems similar to the exercises of the textbook. You may use one A4 paper of your own notes ("cheat sheet") in the final exam. The final grade is a combination of the exam grade (with weight 2/3) and course activity (presentations, exercises, end-chapter quick tests (no cheat sheet!); with weight 1/3). 

First exam: 14 December 2015 (Monday) 10.15-13.00 in B120

Second exam: 1 February (Monday) 9.15-12.00 in C129 (note change of room!)

Course material

O. Diekmann, H. Heesterbeek and T. Britton: Mathematical Tools for Understanding Infectious Disease Dynamics. Princeton University Press, 2012;  0691155399.

In order to participate in this course, you need to have this textbook or have regular access to it. The Kumpula library has three copies for loan in the course book collection, and one extra copy that always remains in the library for use. The book is also available as an ebook through the library of the University of Helsinki. Please honour the copyright and the terms of use of ebooks.

The course will cover the following chapters of the textbook: chapters 1-9, 12 (with the exception of 8.2, but with added material on the evolution of pathogens). See the table of contents of the book.


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