By Angela Xu 03-12-2020
In: hive-exclusives | COVID-19

Podcast Review: Macro Hive Conversations with Yaneer Bar-Yam

(2 min read)
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As COVID cases continue to rise across the US and Europe, we teamed up with complexity theory expert Dr Yaneer Bar-Yam to gain a mathematical perspective. Bar-Yam is the founder and president of the New England Complex Systems Institute, where his research focuses on the application of complexity science in social, political, and economic spheres. Bar-Yam previously worked on the Ebola containment effort in 2014 and has written on the Zika outbreak in 2018.

What is Complexity Theory, and Why Does It Apply to Pandemics?

In a nutshell, complexity science provides alternative sets of assumptions to conventional mathematics as a foundation for mathematical modelling. This can result in meaningfully different outputs compared with conventional counterparts. In particular, it finds systems behave differently at different scales, which is especially when analysing pandemics. According to Bar-Yam, this is because the severity of symptoms causes the continuity of the outcome distribution to break down, and changes in the scale of the pandemic alter its behaviour and responsiveness to policy action.

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