Data surveillance for infectious diseases: models, complex networks and machine learning

Durazzi, Francesco (2023) Data surveillance for infectious diseases: models, complex networks and machine learning, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Fisica, 35 Ciclo.
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In this thesis, we investigate the role of applied physics in epidemiological surveillance through the application of mathematical models, network science and machine learning. The spread of a communicable disease depends on many biological, social, and health factors. The large masses of data available make it possible, on the one hand, to monitor the evolution and spread of pathogenic organisms; on the other hand, to study the behavior of people, their opinions and habits. Presented here are three lines of research in which an attempt was made to solve real epidemiological problems through data analysis and the use of statistical and mathematical models. In Chapter 1, we applied language-inspired Deep Learning models to transform influenza protein sequences into vectors encoding their information content. We then attempted to reconstruct the antigenic properties of different viral strains using regression models and to identify the mutations responsible for vaccine escape. In Chapter 2, we constructed a compartmental model to describe the spread of a bacterium within a hospital ward. The model was informed and validated on time series of clinical measurements, and a sensitivity analysis was used to assess the impact of different control measures. Finally (Chapter 3) we reconstructed the network of retweets among COVID-19 themed Twitter users in the early months of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. By means of community detection algorithms and centrality measures, we characterized users’ attention shifts in the network, showing that scientific communities, initially the most retweeted, lost influence over time to national political communities. In the Conclusion, we highlighted the importance of the work done in light of the main contemporary challenges for epidemiological surveillance. In particular, we present reflections on the importance of nowcasting and forecasting, the relationship between data and scientific research, and the need to unite the different scales of epidemiological surveillance.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Durazzi, Francesco
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
epidemiology, complex networks, machine learning, model, data
Data di discussione
15 Giugno 2023

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