Dr. Lora Billings to deliver Plenary Lecture at the SIAM 2013 Applied Dynamical Systems Conference

Dr. Lora Billings will be delivering one of the nine plenary lectures at the 2013 biennial SIAM Conference on Applied Dynamical Systems. Often referred to as the "Snowbird Meeting," this conference has been one of the most prominent showcases for modern nonlinear science for several decades.  The meeting brings together mathematicians and applied researchers from nearly every branch of the natural, life, social, and engineering sciences with a common interest in the modeling and analysis of complex dynamical processes.

Many conventional mathematical models do not include the effects of small random factors that are observed real problems.  In recognition of the need to include randomness in modeling, this year's Snowbird meeting highlights the effect of random factors which is technically referred to as stochastic fluctuations in nonlinear dynamical systems.

The inclusion of stochastic fluctuations, commonly called noise, can significantly impact model dynamics and is critical for accurately predicting rare, yet important events that occur in real-world phenomena.  Examples of some such events are the extinction of species in ecological systems, the outbreak of an epidemic, a catastrophic failure in a mechanical system, or a giant market swing in an economy.

Dr. Billings’ important contributions to the field were articulated by conference organizer, Dr. Charles Doering of the University of Michigan, who stated “Professor Billings' research has contributed much to our understanding of the important role that small, seemingly negligible, noise can play in the long-term behavior of nonlinear systems.”

Dr. Doering goes on to say that “It is the task of the applied mathematician to understand the fundamental mechanisms at play, to reliably predict the probabilities of such events and, ultimately, to suggest and design control strategies to manage the phenomena.”

Dr. Billings will be presenting on her recent results in intervention-based disease extinction in population models. Corroborating Dr. Doering’s comments, she says “I’m grateful for this opportunity to showcase the work my group has accomplished in the field of stochastic fluctuation theory and what it has revealed in the dynamics of disease modeling. Our goal is to understand rare events and find new, efficient control strategies to eradicate diseases in a network of populations.”