Coordination without a leader, as an emergent property of a distributed system

Flocking models serve to illustrate that cohesive, coordinated group behavior can occur in the absence of a leader. We’ve made some small additions here to a version of such a model created by Uri Wilensky. The additions consist of four buttons to the lower left of the control panel that make it possible to use the model to experimentally test the more common presumption that organization depends on a leader, and to begin exploring other explanations of the observed group behavior. To run the model, first click on “setup” to create a randomly distributed population of birds each heading in a different randomly chosen direction. Then click on “start/stop.” Notice that over time the birds become organized into more or less cohesive flocks with all the birds in the flock moving in the same direction. Typically one bird in each flock is in front and so might be thought to be the leader of the flock.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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