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Short-range interactions versus long-range correlations in bird flocks

Short-range interactions versus long-range correlations in bird flocks

Physical Review. E Statistical Nonlinear and Soft Matter Physics 92(1): 012705

Bird flocks are a paradigmatic example of collective motion. One of the prominent traits of flocking is the presence of long range velocity correlations between individuals, which allow them to influence each other over the large scales, keeping a high level of group coordination. A crucial question is to understand what is the mutual interaction between birds generating such nontrivial correlations. Here we use the maximum entropy (ME) approach to infer from experimental data of natural flocks the effective interactions between individuals. Compared to previous studies, we make a significant step forward as we retrieve the full functional dependence of the interaction on distance, and find that it decays exponentially over a range of a few individuals. The fact that ME gives a short-range interaction even though its experimental input is the long-range correlation function, shows that the method is able to discriminate the relevant information encoded in such correlations and single out a minimal number of effective parameters. Finally, we show how the method can be used to capture the degree of anisotropy of mutual interactions.

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Accession: 058846373

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 26274201

DOI: 10.1103/physreve.92.012705

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