CSH Talk by Guy Arie Amichay “Modeling Firefly Swarms as Coupled Oscillators”

Jun 02, 2023 | 15:0016:00

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Guy Arie Amichay will present a talk on Friday, June 2nd, 2023, at 3 PM at the Salon.


Title: Modeling Firefly Swarms as Coupled Oscillators


Abstract: The study of collective synchronous behavior has primarily focused on the analysis of abstract and greatly simplified mathematical models. Many applications of these models to living systems have been proposed, but the incorporation of real-world data is unfortunately rare. I will present new data and analysis regarding synchronization phenomena observed in one species of firefly from southeast Asia. Due to its relative immobility during synchronous flashing displays, this species offers a unique opportunity for reliable tracking and direct application of candidate models. In late 2022, we used stereo videography to document the three-dimensional behavior of multiple swarms over multiple nights. Our results show that swarms exhibit “meta oscillations” characterized by order parameters that rise and fall on an intermediate time scale (~40 times longer than the typical flashing period of a firefly). This is consistent with models suggesting a “breathing” chimera state—a unique type of spatiotemporal organization that has been the subject of extensive theoretical study, but which has rarely been observed in nature. In addition, I will present new directions that we are now taking with further recordings, analyses, and potential experiments.



Guy Amichay is a postdoctoral fellow in the Engineering Sciences & Applied Mathematics department and the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO) at Northwestern University, working with Daniel Abrams. He is also a guest researcher at the Complexity Science Hub, in the Network Inequality group led by Fariba Karimi. He is primarily interested in self-organization—how systems manage to become ordered with no obvious leader or conductor. His current work is on synchronization (coupled oscillators), focusing on different systems such as firefly swarms flashing in unison or groups of crabs waving their claws in sync. Other than that he is also working on the science of science (on the formation of collaborations) and association football (soccer) collective movement analysis.


Jun 02, 2023


Complexity Science Hub Vienna
Josefstaedter Straße 39
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