Tag Archives: werewolves

university offers zombie apocalypse course to teach students survival skills

Michigan State University plans to offer a zombie apocalypse course to teach students survival skills. The course will be offered by the School of Social Work. (Hat tip to Paul Rubin). The course won’t really teach students how to survive a zombie attack, rather, it uses a zombie apocalypse as a vehicle for teaching students about how to model catastrophic events and infectious diseases like pandemic flu.

The instructor talks about the course in the Youtube video below.

This has me convinced that I should develop a course on OR models for a zombie apocalypse.

I am planning to develop a similar course that teaches introductory OR modeling to undergraduates by way of applications in emergency preparedness and emergency response. I had envisioned covering more traditional disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes. Maybe I should think outside the box.

What topics would you offer in an OR course on the zombie apocalypse? I would start with population models using birth-death models and/or differential equations (see one of my previous posts on this topic) and then look at how to staff deputies or federal marshals to combat the zombie hoards.

I plan to talk about zombies, werewolves, and vampires in the stochastic processes course I am teaching this semester. Here is a previous exam question.

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happy Halloween from Punk Rock Operations Research

Happy Halloween! Here are five Halloween themed posts from Punk Rock OR:

how to (optimally) prepare for a zombie outbreak

on vampires and operations research

werewolves and star wars: two exam questions

vampire-inspired network flows

pumpkin patches and queuing theory

Do you have an OR Halloween costume?


werewolves and star wars: two exam questions

I’m recovering from the end of the semester.  I’m looking forward to a return to regular blogging.  I’ll start writing about the end of the semester.  I decided to have some fun with my stochastic processes final this semester and to write questions about werewolves and Star Wars (I was inspired by Tallys Yunes’s vampire network flow). I’ll be honest, I think that I had more fun with this than did my students.

The werewolf question: The werewolf population in the Richmond area can be modeled as a linear growth birth and death process.  Each werewolf independently reproduces at a rate of lambda = 0.15 werewolves/year and is killed by vampires at a rate of mu = 0.1/year.  If the population started with a pack of three werewolves in the year 1860, find the average size of the werewolf population today (150 years later).

The Star Wars question (pre-Episode IV): Suppose that every month, Darth Vader organizes a gathering on the Death Star to build morale and promote bonding among the Storm Troopers.  The Storm Troopers’ attendance at the gatherings is represented by a Markov chain.  Given that a Storm Trooper has attended the last gathering (state 0), they go to the next gathering with probability p0.  In general, given that they last attended the kth prior gathering, they go to the next gathering with probability pk, with 0 < pk < 1 , k = 0,1,2,3,4.   Storm Troopers are required to attend a gathering every six months, and hence, given that they last attended the 5th prior gathering, they go to the next gathering with probability 1 (p5 = 1).

a. Define the Markov chain for this problem, specify the classes, and determine whether they are recurrent or transient.

b. What is the cumulative density function representing the number of months until a Storm Trooper first returns to the gathering (i.e., the first return to state 0)?  Assume that they have just attended a gathering (i.e., they start in state 0).

b.  In the long run, what is the proportion of Storm Troopers that have attended one of the last three gatherings?

Related post:

Kudos to you if you find the correct solutions!