Published: July 2007
Learn More
In Learn More the National Geographic magazine team shares some of its best sources and other information to expand your knowledge of our featured subjects. Special thanks to the Research Division.

Related Links

Boids
Craig Reynolds's 1986 agent-based model—one that shows autonomous units, in this case "boids," interacting as one large, self-organized group—is a classic example of emergent behavior, where complex group actions arise from simple local rules. Packed with demonstration clips and many Web links, this site is a must for anyone interested in swarm theory.

Centibots: The 100 Robots Project
Learn more about the Centibots project from the SRI International website, which includes sections on the robots' technical design and experiments. See the robots at work and get more information about the trial runs in video clips.

MIT Center for Collective Intelligence
In the fall of 2006 MIT opened its Center for Collective Intelligence, with the goal of answering the question, How can people and computers be connected so that—collectively—they act more intelligently than any individuals, groups, or computers have ever done before?

Crowd Dynamics
Keith Still studies crowd dynamics in order to learn how large groups of people move together and how to redesign public spaces in order to avoid or at least minimize crowd disasters such as crushing and trampling. In his research, he has found fascinating geometric patterns in crowds—images are included on his site.

Stephen Strogatz: Who Cares About Fireflies?
This meaty interview with Stephen Strogatz, one of the top experts in chaos theory and natural synchronization, introduces one man's fascination with nature's cycles and how that led him to his career in research.

The Swarm-Intelligent Systems Group
The Swarm-Intelligent Systems Group at the Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne in Switzerland has pioneered research into collaborative robots, such as those that might someday take part in search and rescue, monitoring, or exploration of dangerous areas.

Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines
A thought-provoking book that you can read online by chapter, Out of Control goes beyond swarm theory to discuss other types of biological systems being harnessed by humankind.

Bibliography

Bonabeau, Eric, and Christopher Meyer. "Swarm Intelligence: A Whole New Way to Think About Business." Harvard Business Review (May 2001), 106-14.

Buhl, J., and others. "From Disorder to Order in Marching Locusts." Science (June 2, 2006), 1402-6.

Dorigo, Marco, and Thomas Stutzle. Ant Colony Optimization. MIT Press, 2004.

Gordon, Deborah M. "Control Without Hierarchy." Nature (March 2007), 142.

Heuer, Karsten. Being Caribou. The Mountaineers Books, 2005.

Parrish, Julia K., et al. "Self-Organized Fish Schools: An Examination of Emergent Properties." The Biological Bulletin (June 2002), 296-305.

Seeley, Thomas D., P. Kirk Visscher, and Kevin M. Passino. "Group Decision Making in Honey Bee Swarms." American Scientist (May-June 2006), 220-29.

Surowiecki, James. The Wisdom of Crowds. Anchor Books, 2004.