### Abstract

We provide further evidence that the study of complex self-organizing systems can benefit from an algorithmic perspective. The subject has been traditionally viewed through the lens of physics and control theory. Using tools typically associated with theoretical computer science, we settle an old question in theoretical ecology: bounding the convergence of bird flocks. We bound the time to reach steady state by a tower-of-twos of height linear in the number of birds. We prove that, surprisingly, the tower-of-twos growth is intrinsic to the model. This unexpected result demonstrates the merits of approaching biological dynamical systems as "natural algorithms" and applying algorithmic techniques to them.

Original language | English (US) |
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Title of host publication | Proceedings of the 20th Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms |

Publisher | Association for Computing Machinery |

Pages | 422-431 |

Number of pages | 10 |

ISBN (Print) | 9780898716801 |

DOIs | |

State | Published - Jan 1 2009 |

Event | 20th Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms - New York, NY, United States Duration: Jan 4 2009 → Jan 6 2009 |

### Publication series

Name | Proceedings of the Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms |
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### Other

Other | 20th Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms |
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Country | United States |

City | New York, NY |

Period | 1/4/09 → 1/6/09 |

### All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

- Software
- Mathematics(all)

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## Cite this

*Proceedings of the 20th Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms*(pp. 422-431). (Proceedings of the Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms). Association for Computing Machinery. https://doi.org/10.1137/1.9781611973068.47