Stochastic modeling of collective motion

Lecture / Panel
For NYU Community

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Department Seminar Series

Gil Ariel, PhD
Department of mathematics of Bar-Ian University, Israel.

Collective movement is a common yet spectacular manifestation of collective behavior. Despite considerable progress, many of the theoretical principles underlying the emergence of large scale synchronization among moving individuals are still poorly understood. For example, a key question in the study of animal motion is how the details of locomotion, interaction between individuals and the environment contribute to the macroscopic dynamics of the hoard, flock or swarm.

The talk will present some of the prevailing models for swarming and collective motion with emphasis on stochastic descriptions. The goal is to identify some generic characteristics regarding the build-up and maintenance of collective order in swarms. In particular, whether order and disorder correspond to different phases, requiring external environmental changes to induce a transition, or rather meta-stable states of the dynamics, suggesting that the emergence of order is kinetic. Different aspects of the phenomenon will be presented, from experiments with bacteria and locusts to our own attempts towards a statistical physics of collective motion.


Dr. Gil Ariel is a Senior lecturer (assistant professor) at the department of mathematics of Bar-Ian University, Israel. His research involves applied mathematics with emphasis on numerical analysis, mutltiscale methods, mathematical biology and collective motion. Prior to Bar-Ilan, he was a Bing instructor at The University of Texas at Austin. Gil Received his B.Sc. in Physics and Computer Science and M.Sc. in condensed matter physics at the Tel-Aviv University. He received his Ph.D. in mathematics from the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University.