Do fish swimming in schools or birds flying in flocks have a collective spirit that enables them to move as one? Are they animals with highly developed cognition, a complex instinct or a telepathic gift? A recent study conducted by the research group led by Prof. Charlotte Hemelrijk of the University of Groningen points in another direction. Mathematical models of self-organization show that complicated collective behaviour can be the consequence of a few simple behavioural rules.
In an article in the online journal PLoS ONE, Hemelrijk and scientific programmer Hanno Hildenbrandt use the StarDisplay computer model to describe the causes of the miraculous variety of shapes in