Natural algorithms

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

52 Scopus citations


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 languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 20th Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9780898716801
StatePublished - 2009
Event20th Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms - New York, NY, United States
Duration: Jan 4 2009Jan 6 2009

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms


Other20th Annual ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew York, NY

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • General Mathematics


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