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The function as.epidata is used to generate objects of class "epidata". Objects of this class are specific data frames containing the event history of an epidemic together with some additional attributes. These objects are the basis for fitting spatio-temporal epidemic intensity models with the function twinSIR. Their implementation is illustrated in Meyer et al. (2017, Section 4), see vignette("twinSIR"). Note that the spatial information itself, i.e. the positions of the individuals, is assumed to be constant over time. Besides epidemics following the SIR compartmental model, also data from SI, SIRS and SIS epidemics may be supplied.


as.epidata(data, ...)

# S3 method for class 'data.frame'
as.epidata(data, t0,
           tE.col, tI.col, tR.col, id.col, coords.cols,
           f = list(), w = list(), D = dist,
           max.time = NULL, keep.cols = TRUE, ...)
# Default S3 method
as.epidata(data, id.col, start.col, stop.col,
           atRiskY.col, event.col, Revent.col, coords.cols,
           f = list(), w = list(), D = dist, .latent = FALSE, ...)

# S3 method for class 'epidata'
print(x, ...)
# S3 method for class 'epidata'
[(x, i, j, drop)
# S3 method for class 'epidata'
update(object, f = list(), w = list(), D = dist, ...)



For the data.frame-method, a data frame with as many rows as there are individuals in the population and time columns indicating when each individual became exposed (optional), infectious (mandatory, but can be NA for non-affected individuals) and removed (optional). Note that this data format does not allow for re-infection (SIRS) and time-varying covariates. The data.frame-method converts the individual-indexed data frame to the long event history start/stop format and then feeds it into the default method. If calling the generic function as.epidata on a data.frame and the t0 argument is missing, the default method is called directly.
For the default method, data can be a matrix or a data.frame. It must contain the observed event history in a form similar to Surv(, type="counting") in package survival, with additional information (variables) along the process. Rows will be sorted automatically during conversion. The observation period is split up into consecutive intervals of constant state - thus constant infection intensities. The data frame consists of a block of \(N\) (number of individuals) rows for each of those time intervals (all rows in a block have the same start and stop values... therefore the name “block”), where there is one row per individual in the block. Each row describes the (fixed) state of the individual during the interval given by the start and stop columns start.col and stop.col.
Note that there may not be more than one event (infection or removal) in a single block. Thus, in a single block, only one entry in the event.col and Revent.col may be 1, all others are 0. This rule follows the point process characteristic that there are no concurrent events (infections or removals).


observation period. In the resulting "epidata", the time scale will be relative to the start time t0. Individuals that have already been removed prior to t0, i.e., rows with tR <= t0, will be dropped. The end of the observation period (max.time) will by default (NULL, or if NA) coincide with the last observed event.

tE.col, tI.col, tR.col

single numeric or character indexes of the time columns in data, which specify when the individuals became exposed, infectious and removed, respectively. tE.col and tR.col can be missing, corresponding to SIR, SEI, or SI data. NA entries mean that the respective event has not (yet) occurred. Note that implies and, and implies (and this is checked for the provided data).
CAVE: Support for latent periods (tE.col) is experimental! twinSIR cannot handle them anyway.


single numeric or character index of the id column in data. The id column identifies the individuals in the data frame. It is converted to a factor by calling factor, i.e., unused levels are dropped if it already was a factor.


single index of the start column in data. Can be numeric (by column number) or character (by column name). The start column contains the (numeric) time points of the beginnings of the consecutive time intervals of the event history. The minimum value in this column, i.e. the start of the observation period should be 0.


single index of the stop column in data. Can be numeric (by column number) or character (by column name). The stop column contains the (numeric) time points of the ends of the consecutive time intervals of the event history. The stop value must always be greater than the start value of a row.


single index of the atRiskY column in data. Can be numeric (by column number) or character (by column name). The atRiskY column indicates if the individual was “at-risk” of becoming infected during the time interval (start; stop]. This variable must be logical or in 0/1-coding. Individuals with atRiskY == 0 in the first time interval (normally the rows with start == 0) are taken as initially infectious.


single index of the event column in data. Can be numeric (by column number) or character (by column name). The event column indicates if the individual became infected at the stop time of the interval. This variable must be logical or in 0/1-coding.


single index of the Revent column in data. Can be numeric (by column number) or character (by column name). The Revent column indicates if the individual was recovered at the stop time of the interval. This variable must be logical or in 0/1-coding.


indexes of the coords columns in data. Can be numeric (by column number), character (by column name), or NULL (no coordinates, e.g., if D is a pre-specified distance matrix). These columns contain the individuals' coordinates, which determine the distance matrix for the distance-based components of the force of infection (see argument f). By default, Euclidean distance is used (see argument D).
Note that the functions related to twinSIR currently assume fixed positions of the individuals during the whole epidemic. Thus, an individual has the same coordinates in every block. For simplicity, the coordinates are derived from the first time block only (normally the rows with start == 0).
The animate-method requires coordinates.


a named list of vectorized functions for a distance-based force of infection. The functions must interact elementwise on a (distance) matrix D so that f[[m]](D) results in a matrix. A simple example is function(u) {u <= 1}, which indicates if the Euclidean distance between the individuals is smaller than or equal to 1. The names of the functions determine the names of the epidemic variables in the resulting data frame. So, the names should not coincide with names of other covariates. The distance-based weights are computed as follows: Let \(I(t)\) denote the set of infectious individuals just before time \(t\). Then, for individual \(i\) at time \(t\), the \(m\)'th covariate has the value \(\sum_{j \in I(t)} f_m(d_{ij})\), where \(d_{ij}\) denotes entries of the distance matrix (by default this is the Euclidean distance \(||s_i - s_j||\) between the individuals' coordinates, but see argument D).


a named list of vectorized functions for extra covariate-based weights \(w_{ij}\) in the epidemic component. Each function operates on a single time-constant covariate in data, which is determined by the name of the first argument: The two function arguments should be named varname.i and varname.j, where varname is one of names(data). Similar to the components in f, length(w) epidemic covariates will be generated in the resulting "epidata" named according to names(w). So, the names should not coincide with names of other covariates. For individual \(i\) at time \(t\), the \(m\)'th such covariate has the value \(\sum_{j \in I(t)} w_m(z^{(m)}_i, z^{(m)}_j)\), where \(z^{(m)}\) denotes the variable in data associated with w[[m]].


either a function to calculate the distances between the individuals with locations taken from coord.cols (the default is Euclidean distance via the function dist) and the result converted to a matrix via as.matrix, or a pre-computed distance matrix with dimnames containing the individual ids (a classed "Matrix" is supported).


logical indicating if all columns in data should be retained (and not only the obligatory "epidata" columns), in particular any additional columns with time-constant individual-specific covariates. Alternatively, keep.cols can be a numeric or character vector indexing columns of data to keep.


(internal) logical indicating whether to allow for latent periods (EXPERIMENTAL). Otherwise (default), the function verifies that an event (i.e., switching to the I state) only happens when the respective individual is at risk (i.e., in the S state).


an object of class "epidata".


arguments passed to Currently unused in the as.epidata-methods.


arguments passed to [.data.frame.


The print method for objects of class "epidata" simply prints the data frame with a small header containing the time range of the observed epidemic and the number of infected individuals. Usually, the data frames are quite long, so the summary method summary.epidata might be useful. Also, indexing/subsetting "epidata" works exactly as for data.frames, but there is an own method, which assures consistency of the resulting "epidata" or drops this class, if necessary. The update-method can be used to add or replace distance-based (f) or covariate-based (w) epidemic variables in an existing "epidata" object.

SIS epidemics are implemented as SIRS epidemics where the length of the removal period equals 0. This means that an individual, which has an R-event will be at risk immediately afterwards, i.e. in the following time block. Therefore, data of SIS epidemics have to be provided in that form containing “pseudo-R-events”.


The column name "BLOCK" is a reserved name. This column will be added automatically at conversion and the resulting data frame will be sorted by this column and by id. Also the names "id", "start", "stop", "atRiskY", "event" and "Revent" are reserved for the respective columns only.


a data.frame with the columns "BLOCK", "id",

"start", "stop", "atRiskY", "event",

"Revent" and the coordinate columns (with the original names from

data), which are all obligatory. These columns are followed by any remaining columns of the input data. Last but not least, the newly generated columns with epidemic variables corresponding to the functions in the list f are appended, if length(f) > 0.

The data.frame is given the additional attributes


numeric vector of infection time points (sorted chronologically).


numeric vector of length 2: c(min(start), max(stop)).


numeric vector containing the column indices of the coordinate columns in the resulting data frame.


this equals the argument f.


this equals the argument w.


Sebastian Meyer

See also

The hagelloch data as an example.

The plot and the summary method for class "epidata". Furthermore, the function animate.epidata for the animation of epidemics.

Function twinSIR for fitting spatio-temporal epidemic intensity models to epidemic data.

Function simEpidata for the simulation of epidemic data.


Meyer, S., Held, L. and Höhle, M. (2017): Spatio-temporal analysis of epidemic phenomena using the R package surveillance. Journal of Statistical Software, 77 (11), 1-55. doi:10.18637/jss.v077.i11


data("hagelloch")   # see help("hagelloch") for a description

## convert the original data frame to an "epidata" event history
myEpi <- as.epidata(hagelloch.df, t0 = 0,
                    tI.col = "tI", tR.col = "tR", id.col = "PN",
                    coords.cols = c("x.loc", "y.loc"),
                    keep.cols = c("SEX", "AGE", "CL"))
if (surveillance.options("allExamples")) {
## test consistency with default method
evHist <-[,-1]
myEpi2 <- as.epidata(
    evHist, id.col = 1, start.col = "start", stop.col = "stop",
    atRiskY.col = "atRiskY", event.col = "event", Revent.col = "Revent",
    coords.cols = c("x.loc", "y.loc")
stopifnot(identical(myEpi, myEpi2))

head(  # "epidata" has event history format
summary(myEpi)              # see 'summary.epidata'
plot(myEpi)                 # see 'plot.epidata' and also 'animate.epidata'

if (surveillance.options("allExamples")) {
## add distance- and covariate-based weights for the force of infection
## in a twinSIR model, see vignette("twinSIR") for a description
myEpi <- update(myEpi,
    f = list(
        household    = function(u) u == 0,
        nothousehold = function(u) u > 0
    w = list(
        c1 = function (CL.i, CL.j) CL.i == "1st class" & CL.j == CL.i,
        c2 = function (CL.i, CL.j) CL.i == "2nd class" & CL.j == CL.i
## this is now identical to the prepared hagelloch "epidata"
stopifnot(all.equal(myEpi, hagelloch))

if (surveillance.options("allExamples")) {
## test with precomputed distance matrix D
myEpi3 <- suppressWarnings( # from overwriting existing f columns
    update(hagelloch, f = attr(hagelloch, "f"),
           D = as.matrix(dist(hagelloch.df[c("x.loc", "y.loc")])))
stopifnot(identical(hagelloch, myEpi3))