Defining emergence: Learning from flock behavior

The idea of emergence originates from the fact that global effects emerge from local interactions producing a collective coherent behavior. A particular instance of emergence is illustrated by a flocking model of interacting “boids” encompassing two antagonistic conducts—consensus and frustration—giving rise to highly complex, unpredictable, coherent behavior. The cohesive motion arising from consensus can be described in terms of three ordered dynamic phases. Once frustration is included in the model, local phases for specific groups of flockmates, and transitions among them, replace the global ordered phases. Following the evolution of boids in a single group, we discovered that the boids in this group will alternate among the three phases. When we compare two uncorrelated groups, the second group shows a similar behavior to the first one, but with a different sequence of phases. Besides the visual observation of our animations with marked boids, the result is evident plotting the local order parameters. Rather than adopting one of the consensus ordered phases, the flock motion resembles more an entangled dynamic sequence of phase transitions involving each group of flockmates.


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