The many guises of R0 (a didactic note)

J. M. Cushing*, Odo Diekmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The basic reproduction number R0 is, by definition, the expected life time number of offspring of a newborn individual. An operationalization entails a specification of what events are considered as “reproduction” and what events are considered as “transitions from one individual-state to another”. Thus, an element of choice can creep into the concretization of the definition. The aim of this note is to clearly expose this possibility by way of examples from both population dynamics and infectious disease epidemiology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-302
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2016


  • Basic reproduction number
  • Infectious disease dynamics
  • Next-generation matrix
  • Population dynamics


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