Publication Title

Royal Society Open Science

Document Type


Department or Program


Second Department or Program


Publication Date



emergence, smallpox, epidemic, mathematical model, oscillation, data


A simple susceptible–infectious–removed epidemic model for smallpox, with birth and death rates based on historical data, produces oscillatory dynamics with remarkably accurate periodicity. Stochastic population data cause oscillations to be sustained rather than damped, and data analysis regarding the oscillations provides insights into the same set of population data. Notably, oscillations arise naturally from the model, instead of from a periodic forcing term or other exogenous mechanism that guarantees oscillation: the model has no such mechanism. These emergent natural oscillations display appropriate periodicity for smallpox, even when the model is applied to different locations and populations. The model and datasets, in turn, offer new observations about disease dynamics and solution trajectories. These results call for renewed attention to relatively simple models, in combination with datasets from real outbreaks.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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