Integer versus fractional order SEIR deterministic and stochastic models of measles

Md Rafiul Islam, Angela Peace, Daniel Medina, Tamer Oraby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


In this paper, we compare the performance between systems of ordinary and (Caputo) fractional differential equations depicting the susceptible-exposed-infectious-recovered (SEIR) models of diseases. In order to understand the origins of both approaches as mean-field approximations of integer and fractional stochastic processes, we introduce the fractional differential equations (FDEs) as approximations of some type of fractional nonlinear birth and death processes. Then, we examine validity of the two approaches against empirical courses of epidemics; we fit both of them to case counts of three measles epidemics that occurred during the pre-vaccination era in three different locations. While ordinary differential equations (ODEs) are commonly used to model epidemics, FDEs are more flexible in fitting empirical data and theoretically offer improved model predictions. The question arises whether, in practice, the benefits of using FDEs over ODEs outweigh the added computational complexities. While important differences in transient dynamics were observed, the FDE only outperformed the ODE in one of out three data sets. In general, FDE modeling approaches may be worth it in situations with large refined data sets and good numerical algorithms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2014
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2 2020


  • Caputo fractional order differential equations
  • Fractional SEIR stochastic model
  • Measles
  • Parameter estimation


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