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Order Flocking Out of Chaos (nautil.us)
27 points by dnetesn 12 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 4 comments

Very nice photos. I wonder how much of that flocking behaviour can be reproduced with simple algorithmic simulants such as boids.


While the pictures are certainly beautiful, the birds behave in predictable ways and are ordered the whole time. The chaos is only in the mind of the beholder.

(Also something something Eristic Principle)

What chaos means in this context is "sensitive dependence on initial conditions" meaning if there's just a tiny amount of noise in your model of the behavior it's going to become useless pretty swiftly.

Starling murmurations fit the bill. The behavior of each participant can affect the whole flock such that there's a complex network of feedback loops involved. Their behavior, then, is not all that predictable.

Chaos by James Gleick is an entertaining book on the topic.

I agree with you that starling murmuration are chaotic systems in the mathematical sense. I don't think that this pop-sci article meant chaos in the mathematical sense though:

> “I’m interested in the transient moments when chaos briefly changes to order, and thousands of individual bodies appear to move as one,”

This quote in the article from the photographer makes it clear that she considered the birds to look/be chaotic before the brief moment when all the bodies moved as one.

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