Modeling the Aftermath: Mathematica's Role in Hurricane Insurance Research

Seth Chandler, University of Houston Law Center

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The Mathematica Edge
  • Generates flexible interfaces for manipulating parameters, which encourages interactive exploration of problems
  • Automates the process of creating compelling, dynamic information visualizations
  • Provides full programming language for rapid development and prototyping
"When I tell them [legislators] what the risks are of post-event bonding, they know I'm not talking out of my hat. They know there's real science behind this."


Since Hurricane Ike devastated Texas in September 2008, Seth Chandler has been analyzing catastrophe models and other data in Mathematica to show how the insurance market can better handle paying for hurricane damages.

Using Mathematica's computational power and rich visualization tools, he has developed several interactive Demonstrations to help examine the allocation of losses from hurricanes. Chandler says, "With other languages I think we would spend weeks on simply the production of the graphics or the computation of the differential equations or the drawing of random distributions, and Mathematica is a seamless environment in which we can put this all together in a reasonable time."

Chandler uses his Demonstrations to illustrate his research to legislators and other public policymakers. He says Mathematica's ability to create instant, interactive interfaces helps him better communicate his findings.

"It's a very effective, compelling visualization tool, and it's open; that is, when someone asks me a question at a presentation, I can actually modify the code on the fly to take account of their new assumption, rerun the model, and present it...they find it a useful tool for thinking about the problem."

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