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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Boids! (Its a boid, its a plane, its...)

Lets kick things off with a little video. The movements of the glob in the cube thing are almost reminiscent of... a school of fish or perhaps a flock of birds. (Get someone with a stereotypical New York accent to pronounce that last part for great effect. ;)

What you're witnessing is the interaction of a group of small entities known as Boids. Boids themselves aren't very smart or capable, but in groups they can exhibit some interesting qualities. These interesting qualities, or behaviors are known as an emergent behavior. (Another way to describe how they act is saying they exhibit flocking behavior.) Here are some interesting points about these boid things...
  • How do they avoid hitting each other?
  • How do they stay together as one group?
  • How do they avoid obstacles? 
Regardless, they're definitely fun to watch. An arena where you might have seen this sort of thing before aside from nature might be... video games. Think for a minute (if you play games) and see if you can recall seeing this sort of thing in any games you might have played. Its more common than people really realize. Particle effects, opponent AI (... and those opponents cooperating against you), etc... the list is longer than one first thinks.

Here are some fun links to explore until next time. :)

A flash site on other examples of emergence:

A wiki article on the Game of Life:'s_Game_of_Life
... and an implementation:

... and oh yeah, I said I was going to show some ways swarm intelligence relates directly to us as humans. Next time!

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