Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Industrial Engineering

Committee Chair

Alexander, Suraj Mammen

Author's Keywords

Social network; Spatio-temporal interaction; Disease spread; Space-time path; Public health; Infection index


Public health surveillance; Social networks--Health aspects; Information storage and retrieval systems--Public health


Early information is crucial for policy makers and public health officials responsible for protecting the public from the virulent spread of contagious diseases. Current indicators of the spread of contagious outbreaks lag behind the actual spread of the epidemic, leaving no time for a planned response. The studies of Christakis et al. in 2010 have shown that social networks can provide more timely information for prediction. Our focus, however, is on the effective control of the spread of contagious outbreaks in their early stages. We do this by defining a more effective way to chart the spread of contagious outbreaks, in a spatio-temporal sense, so that effective control actions can be taken. In this paper, we use information from "sensors", such as, First Watch and EARS (Early Aberration Response Systems) and "central" individuals in social networks for early "spatio-temporal" prediction of virulent contagious outbreaks as a means to allocate resources to "nip a potential pandemic in the bud." Specifically we combine the research of Christakis et. al on social networks and that of Hongbo Yu on "spatio-temporal" prediction of human activities to chart the spread of a virulent disease.