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In Advanced theory and simulations

The COVID-19 pandemic has infected over 250 million people worldwide and killed more than 5 million as of November 2021. Many intervention strategies are utilized (e.g., masks, social distancing, vaccinations), but officials making decisions have a limited time to act. Computer simulations can aid them by predicting future disease outcomes, but they also require significant processing power or time. It is examined whether a machine learning model can be trained on a small subset of simulation runs to inexpensively predict future disease trajectories resembling the original simulation results. Using four previously published agent-based models (ABMs) for COVID-19, a decision tree regression for each ABM is built and its predictions are compared to the corresponding ABM. Accurate machine learning meta-models are generated from ABMs without strong interventions (e.g., vaccines, lockdowns) using small amounts of simulation data: the root-mean-square error (RMSE) with 25% of the data is close to the RMSE for the full dataset (0.15 vs 0.14 in one model; 0.07 vs 0.06 in another). However, meta-models for ABMs employing strong interventions require much more training data (at least 60%) to achieve a similar accuracy. In conclusion, machine learning meta-models can be used in some scenarios to assist in faster decision-making.

Lutz Christopher B, Giabbanelli Philippe J


COVID‐19, agent‐based models, machine learning, meta‐modeling, surrogate model