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Re: flocking



"Thomas R. Holtz, Jr." wrote:
> Well, I don't know that this actually addresses the actual mechanism of
> these group flock turns, but such patterns can be fairly accurately
> *simulated* on computers with just a couple of basic rules.  I can't
> remember them all, but they are something like: each flock member tries to
> get towards the center of the flock; each flock member tries to maintain a
> minimum distance from other members; each flock member tries to avoid
> hitting any obstacle (the last is a natural, but you have to program that
> into the computer or you get messy results... :-).
> 
> In any case, with just a few simple rules, people have done some very good
> computer simulations of bird and bat flock behavior (and fish schooling),
> some of which have made their way into movies.

I'm pretty sure the mechanisms involved are different, though.  As I
understand it the lateral line system in fish is responsible for
coordinating much of their schooling behavior, which is why their
movements seem to be so synchronized.  Birds and bats would have to use
different mechanisms, which somewhat explains why they're less in sync
than fish.
 
> In any case, if birds and others are actually following these algorithms, if
> just one or a few members turn for whatever reason, that turn will cascade
> throughout the flock/school relatively easily and swiftly.

If they're using vision to do this, I'm a bit surprised they don't have
more accidents.  I would think one little mistake would be magnified
through the flock, causing it to fall apart at times only to reform
later.