The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has highlighted the importance of mathematical modelling in informing and advising policy decision-making. Effective practice of mathematical modelling has challenges. These can be around the technical modelling framework and how different techniques are combined, the appropriate use of mathematical formalisms or computational languages to accurately capture the intended mechanism or process being studied, in transparency and robustness of models and numerical code, in simulating the appropriate scenarios via explicitly identifying underlying assumptions about the process in nature and simplifying approximations to facilitate modelling, in correctly quantifying the uncertainty of the model parameters and projections, in taking into account the variable quality of data sources, and applying established software engineering practices to avoid duplication of effort and ensure reproducibility of numerical results. Via a collection of 16 technical papers, this special issue aims to address some of these challenges alongside showcasing the usefulness of modelling as applied in this pandemic.

This article is part of the theme issue ‘Technical challenges of modelling real-life epidemics and examples of overcoming these’.


Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.

Cite as

Panovska-Griffiths, J., Waites, W. & Ackland, G. 2022, 'Technical challenges of modelling real-life epidemics and examples of overcoming these', Proceedings A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 380(2233), article no: 20220179. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2022.0179

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Last updated: 27 August 2022
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