Covid-19 related research projects


Prediction of Covid-19 spreading and optimal coordination of counter-measures: From microscopic to macroscopic models to Pareto fronts

Project Heads

Tim Conrad, Nataša Djurdjevac Conrad, Kai Nagel, Christof Schuette

Project Members

Hanna Wulkow, Sebastian A. Mueller

Cooperation Partner

Michael Dellnitz (U Paderborn)

Project Duration


Located at

ZIB, FU Berlin, TU Berlin


The Covid-19 disease has caused a world-wide pandemic with more than 60 million positive cases and more than 1.4 million deaths by the end of November 2020. As long as effective medical treatments and vaccination are not available, non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing, self-isolation and quarantine as well as far-reaching shutdowns of economic activity and public life are the only available strategies to prevent the virus from spreading. These interventions must meet conflicting requirements where some objectives, like the minimization of disease-related deaths or the impact on health systems, demand for stronger counter-measures, while others, such as social and economic costs, call for weaker counter-measures. Therefore, finding the optimal compromise of counter-measures requires the solution of a multi-objective optimization problem that is based on accurate prediction of future infection spreading for all combinations of countermeasures under consideration.

We present a strategy for construction and solution of such a multi-objective optimization problem with real-world applicability. The strategy is based on a micro-model allowing for accurate prediction via a realistic combination of person-centric data-driven human mobility and behavior, stochastic infection models and disease progression models including micro-level inclusion of governmental intervention strategies. For this micro-model, a surrogate macro-model is constructed and validated that is much less computationally expensive and can therefore be used in the core of a numerical solver for the multi-objective optimization problem. The resulting set of optimal compromises between countermeasures (Pareto front) is discussed and its meaning for policy decisions is outlined.


Modeling spread of covid-19, multi-objective optimization, Pareto front, agent-based model, surrogate model

More Information

Hanna Wulkow, Tim Conrad, Nataša Djurdjevac Conrad, Sebastian A. Mueller, Kai Nagel, and Christof Schuette (2020) Prediction of Covid-19 spreading and optimal coordination of counter-measures: From microscopic to macroscopic models to Pareto fronts, available as preprint via medXrev, doi: 10.1101/2020.12.01.20241885


Sebastian A Müller, Michael Balmer, Billy Charlton, Ricardo Ewert, Andreas Neumann, Christian Rakow, Tilmann Schlenther, and Kai Nagel. Using mobile phone data for epidemiological simulations of lockdowns: government interventions, behavioral changes, and resulting changes of reinfections. medRxiv, doi:10.1101/2020.07.22.20160093, 2020.

Project Type

BMBF project MODUS-COVID in cooperation with MATH+ projects EF4-3 and EF5-1

Project Funding

BMBF project MODUS-COVID (project ID: 01KX2022A)