a.k.a. collective motion, swarm dynamics, herd behaviour, particle systems…
A type of agent-based model where the emphasis is on motion in space.
One thought this model provokes, which is frankly the main appeal for me, is that it would make a really nice algorithm to drive a granular sampler. Has anyone done that yet? Turns out they have, e.g. Nicholas Mariette
Why not read…
Boids inventor Craig Reynolds has a page dedicated to this algorithm with more than you could possibly need to know about his classic model, including other implementations, animations, and trainspotting of the algorithm at work in Hollywood blockbusters.
Thomas Lux. 1995. Herd Behaviour, Bubbles and Crashes. The Economic Journal. (Online) --- Nice paper on the relevance of this to human behaviour.
Dion Harmon, Marcus A M de Aguiar, David D Chinellato, Dan Braha, Irving R Epstein, Yaneer Bar-Yam. 2010. Predicting economic market crises using measures of collective panic. (Online) (cf Wired's heart-warmingly enthusiastic coverage of same.)
Iain Couzin and colleagues have created some neat hacks in this area including exotica like mixing real animals with simulated ones in lab environments, and racetracks for locusts, and thereby actually qualify as doing real science.
Gama sutra's diverting article on the intersection of the classic Reynolds Boids algorithm and human opinion dynamics. (Warning - human opinion dynamics are likely topologically different to this kind of bloody-minded literalism. But yay! video gamers like it; this is an Established Field now, then.)