Collective Behaviour - Fall Seminar Series 2020

How to best study collective behaviour?


David Sumpter, University of Uppsala

David Sumpter is a Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. He is the author of Collective Animal Behaviour (2010), Soccermatics (2016), Outnumbered (2018) and The Ten Equations that Rule the World (2020). His research covers everything from the inner workings of fish schools and ant colonies, through social psychology and segregation in society, to machine learning and artificial intelligence. He has consulted for leading football clubs and nations including Hammarby, England and Barcelona, and works actively with outreach to schools, industry and the social sector. His talks at Google, TedX, the Oxford Mathematics Public Lecture and The Royal Institution are available online.

The Study of Collective Animal Behavior

The study of collective animal behaviour arose (in large part) from the idea that new insights would be gained into group behaviour by using mathematical models of individuals to predict emergent properties of groups. The models were judged on the insights they provided in to biological systems. A machine learning approach to collective behaviour emphasises instead model fit – how well a model predicts patterns in data. I discuss the pros and cons of these approaches, with reference to fish schooling and the team sport of football, and come down firmly on the side of models like self-propelled particle models, which provide insight from the bottom-up.

Datum: 2020-11-30