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Why did you choose your job? Or where you live? Scientists at the University of Warwick have discovered that it was probably to keep your options as open as possible—and the more we co-operate together, the more opportunities are available to us.
Using flocks of birds as a model, they have shown that birds of a feather will indeed flock together to maximise the information they have access to and to give them the most future options when flocking.
Discovery - Henry - Charlesworth - Supervisor - Professor
The discovery by Henry Charlesworth and his supervisor Professor Matthew Turner published on 15 July in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides a clue to the emergence of social co-operation in animals by explaining how individuals gain greater advantages by working in groups. The research was partially funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation.
The researchers sought to gain a better understanding of collective motion, like that seen in a flock of birds, a herd of animals, an insect swarm or a human crowd.
Computer - Simulation - Bird - Flocks - Model
They created a computer simulation, using bird flocks as a model, in which the 'birds' perceived a visual representation of the world around them, as if through a simple retina. They then programmed them with an algorithm based on the principle of Future State Maximisation (FSM), so the 'birds' would move to maximise the number of different visual environments that they expect to be able to access in the future.
The way they move together resembled animals in several ways, including cohesion (they stick together), co-alignment (they fly in roughly the same direction as their neighbours) and collision suppression, none of which were specifically programmed into the model. This demonstrates that there is a fundamental advantage to the 'birds' in working together.
Professor - Matthew - Turner - University - Warwick
Professor Matthew Turner, from the University of Warwick Department of...
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