A massive emergent collective behavior among animals and some micro-organisms through which they alineate their movements in ordered patterns.
More generally it is a typical behavior of numerous elements in originally random interaction within a confined space (See M. BUCHANAN, 2000).
Flocking is observed in birds flights, in fish shoals, in some bacteria and seems even to correspond to atoms orientation in magnets.
It has been modelized by C. REYNOLDS through a computer program applied to a number of "creatures" called boids.
REYNOLDS' algorithm imposes them three simple rules:
- Try to match your direction with your neighbours
- Head for their average position
- Don't collide
Flocking appears as an emergent property in such a setting.
It appears to be an adaptive collective condition corresponding to a more efficient global use of energy. As a behavior it leads to the emergence of complex systems at a higher level, in accordance with PRIGOGINE's theorem of minimum entropy production" and HAKEN's so-called slaving principle
T. VICZEK, of Eötvös University, in Budapest, and some American researchers, have developed mathematical models of this quite frequent phenomenon (B. SCHECHTER, 1999, p.30-33)
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Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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