Flocking is the collective motion of a large number of self-propelled entities and is a collective animal behavior exhibited by many living beings such as birds, fish, bacteria, and insects. It is an example of swarm intelligence. Flocking behavior was first simulated on a computer in 1986 by Craig Reynolds with his simulation program, Boids. This program simulates simple agents (boids) that are allowed to move according to a set of basic rules. The result is akin to a flock of birds, a school of fish, or a swarm of insects.
Basic models of flocking behavior are controlled by three simple rules:
- Separation - avoid crowding neighbors (short range repulsion)
- Alignment - steer towards average heading of neighbors
- Cohesion - steer towards average position of neighbors (long range attraction)
In short: stay close to the group, but stay away from individuals. With these simple rules, the flock moves in a realistic way, creating complex motion and interaction that would be extremely hard to create otherwise.
- Wikipedia entry for flocking behavior