Factory Report: Interaction Networks and Collective Motion in Swarms, Flocks and Crowds, 26‐28 May, 2014

The Aalto Factory on Interaction Networks and Collective Motion in Swarms, Flocks and Crowds has been held at the Open Innovation House of Aalto University. It has gathered a crowd of about 40 people, representing over 20 countries of Europe, Asia, North and South America. The venue was meant to be an experiment, mixing together two communities who can benefit a lot from mutual exchanges: biologists working on the problem of collective motion in animal groups and network scientists. By means of modern equipment it has become possible to track the position of individual animals, like fish, birds, insects and, more recently, even of human beings, through wearable sensors. So one may attempt to construct the network of interactions between animals, disclose what their interaction partners are, seeking evidence of leader-­‐follower dynamics, etc. From this information it is then possible to move towards the design of models that explain how animals move together, since the understanding of this phenomenon is still at the qualitative level only. For such activities of data characterization and modeling tools and techniques from network science turn out to be very useful. We promoted this event to favor a discourse between these two communities. The co-­chair of the event, with whom we conducted this project, is Dr. Guy Theraulaz from the University Paul Sabatier of Toulouse (France), one of the world’s greatest experts in the investigation of swarms and collective motion.


Dr. Alain Barrat (CPT Marseille, France) explains how it is possible to track face-to‐face interactions of people in various contexts, from conferences to hospitals.

The event lasted two and a half days. Our invited speakers included stars in the field of collective motion like Iain Couzin (Princeton) and Tamas Vicsek (Eötvös University, Budapest, Hungary). Here is the complete list: Alain Barrat (CPT Marseille, France), Iain D. Couzin (Princeton, USA), Petter Holme (University of Umeå, Sweden), Jari Saramäki (Aalto University, Finland), David Sumpter (Uppsala University, Sweden), Tamas Vicsek (Eötvös University, Hungary), A. Jamie Wood (University of York, UK).


Workshop chair Santo Fortunato with workshop star Iain Couzin.

Along with experts in collective motion like Couzin, Vicsek, Wood and Sumpter, the list features well known names of the network science community, particularly in the subtopic of temporal networks, which is most relevant for the analysis and modeling of collective motion: Barrat, Holme and Saramäki. Contributed talks dealt with various topics: schooling of fish (Daniele Calovi, Maksym Romenskyy), bacterial swarming (Avraham Be’er, Maxime Deforet, Amit Rabani, Sivan Benisty), self-­‐organization of ants (Arianna Bottinelli, Line Le Goff, Daniel Strömbom), swarming of mosquitos (Lorenzo Del Castello), bird flocking (Stefania Melillo, Luca Giuggioli, Makoto Yomosa, Tsuyoshi Mizuguchi), pedestrian dynamics (Alessandro Corbetta, Jaeyoung Kwak, Majid Sarvi), human mobility (Mario Gutiérrez-­‐Roig, Seth Frey), tracking social interaction networks (Nicolas Perony), role of hierarchy (Sean Rands), information diffusion (Eiko Yoneki), synchronization of pendula (Zoltán Neda), quantification of large-­‐scale collective events (Ceyda Sanli) and animal transportation networks (Andrea Perna). 


 Prof. Tamas Vicsek sitting on one of the hanging chairs of the European Institute of Technology.

The slides of the presentations, along with the abstracts, can be downloaded in pdf format from the Program section of the Factory’s Website (http://www.collectivemotion2014.net/program). We allocated long breaks to favor discussions among participants and a more relaxed atmosphere. During one of the breaks, Prof. Pekka Orponen has kindly guided the crowd through the upper floors of the Open Innovation House, and has briefly introduced the research centers hosted there, like the European Institute of Technology.


 Dramatic developments of the interactions between junior participants

Overall, the Factory was a big success, we got a lot of positive feedback both during and after the event. The Aalto Science Institute was the sole sponsor of the event, so we are very grateful for its support, without which the workshop would not have been possible.






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