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Real-World Problems Being Solved By Mathematicians

Control Disease

Real-World Problem

Control Disease - Face Masks

How do public health agencies prevent an outbreak of the flu from becoming an epidemic?

Being Solved by Mathematicians

Public health agencies closely monitor flu infection rates, at the ready to limit travel or quarantine hospitals if an epidemic is impending.

Traditionally, agencies would gather medical data from hospitals, watching for increased occurrence of flu. This data was slow to gather, becoming available weeks after patients were treated. The delay allowed significant spread of flu before an epidemic was noticed.

Nowadays when people are sick, many tend to Google their symptoms. Google Flu Trends records these queries, and has shown them to be an accurate indicator of flu prevalence.

More searches on symptoms = more sick people.

Google flu

Google Flu Trends provides public health agencies with immediate data about flu numbers.

Try Your Hand...

When you google the keywords "fever cough chill", how does the search engine choose which related pages to display first? The PageRank™ algorithm ranks each relevant page according to the probability that the user will stop clicking and stay on that page, favouring pages that may be reached via many other relevant pages.

In this problem, a skier descends a hill, encountering several choices of which ski run to take next. What is the probability that the skier reaches point D?"

Activity Sheet

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