Animal groups, such as bird flocks, fish schools, or insect swarms, often exhibit complex, coordinated collective dynamics resulting from individual interactions. This emergent behavior, which can help inspire decentralized control algorithms for groups of autonomous robots, has attracted growing interest, being studied mainly through a number of numerical models. There has been little progress, however, in developing new theoretical concepts for such systems or in establishing solid connections to well-controlled experiments. In this talk, I will describe recent efforts to develop elements of a nonequilibrium dynamics theory of swarms, and I will present some of the first results stemming from a new interactive laboratory experiment with fish schools, that has been recently set up by my collaborator, Prof. I. Couzin, and his group at Princeton University.
swarms, nonequilibrium dynamics, decentralized control, fish schooling experiments, network dynamics, swarm theory