Computer Vision Reveals The Remarkable Secret of Flocking

William Bialek and his team at Princeton University have used new computer vision techniques that can track the location movement of multiple objects to analyze the coordinated behavior of starling flocks.  They have developed a theoretical model that has similarities to 'critical phase changes' in physical systems.  Starlings can coordinate their flying with neighbors but this coordination should decay rapidly, resulting in small groups that internally act in a coordinated fashion but act independently at the group level.  The model suggests that a critical point is reached where social forces within the flock become predominant, resulting in coordination extended throughout the flock.

References: : Social Interactions Dominate Speed Control In Driving Natural Flocks Toward Criticality

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