a murmuring of mesmerizing starlings

Daan van Berkel

Jan-Erik Rediger

Half-day workshop - in English

Seeing a big flock of birds flying as if they are one organism is a mesmerizing experience. One often wonders: "How do these birds ``know'' what to do?".

Although the overall behavior of the flock seems very complex, it is an emergent property of a few simple rules.

In an elegant algorithm Craig Reynolds showed that flocking behavior is possible if birds seek to

1. Avoid collisions by separating from there immediate neighbors.
2. Aligning themselves in the direction the group is moving.
3. Seeking to minimize exposure by trying to move towards the center of the flock.
In this workshop you will get to learn about these rules in detail by commanding your own flock of virtual creatures. Your task is to program the brains of your obedient birds and see how from your code flocking emerges. In the virtual world you will encounter other species, both docile and predatory,
that offer new challenges.

You will walk away with a new understanding of the complex interplay of interacting systems, how intricate behavior can emerge from simple rules and a new appriciation of the natural world.


Primarily for: Developers, Tester/test leads, Architects, Designers

Participant requirements: The participants can form pairs and work on a machine with their favorite environment. Starter kits will be provided in various languages to let the participants hit the ground running.