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Zicklin Students Praised for Simulation Model of COVID-19 Spread

May 21, 2020

COVID-19 has already inspired murals, music, pastries, costumes, and more. Now it’s inspired a group project for a team of graduate students at the Zicklin School of Business. 

For the final project in their Introduction to Simulation Modeling and Analysis class, Farwa Ismail, Yuqiang Lu, Alexander Sonneborn, and Amy Xu created a simulation analysis of the spread of COVID-19 in New York City. Using the programming language Python, the team simulated the effects of various policies and personal practices — for example, if all infected people were quarantined versus just half, or if everyone practiced social distancing as opposed to 70 percent of people.

They found some interesting results; for example, quarantining half of infected people was shown to be useless because nearly everyone would end up infected anyway. They also found that better hygiene practices (face masks in public, more frequent hand washing) were less effective than if 70 percent of people practiced social distancing. 

The students’ professor, Linda Friedman, said she “couldn’t be prouder” of the team. “The project was original, thoughtful, and timely,” she added. “They carried it through from start to finish — very impressive work.”