New preprint about robofish and group-behaviour

Today I released a new preprint on bioRxiv, Group-level patterns emerge from individual speed as revealed by an extremely social robotic fish, which is the result of a great collaboration with David Bierbach and colleagues at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin.

In this paper we present results of an experiment to investigate how the speed of individual group members leads to group-level patterns. We paired guppies with a biomimetic robot that was programmed to always follow and lack any individual preferences of its own. We used a state-of-the art closed-loop tracking and feedback system to be able to properly control for the influence of individual heterogeneity of the individual’s group members.

We show that individual differences in guppies’ movement speed were highly repeatable and shaped key collective patterns: higher individual speeds resulted in stronger leadership, lower cohesion, higher alignment, and better temporal coordination in the pairs. By combining the strengths of individual-based models and observational work with state-of-the-art robotics, we provide novel evidence that individual speed is a key, fundamental process in the emergence of collective behaviour.

Learning a new skill: LaTeX

The last few weeks I delved into learning \LaTeX, a code language for more aesthetically pleasing article writing, especially in terms of mathematical formulas. As my research has increasingly been focused on the mechanisms underlying collective behaviour, for which I do a lot of mathematical computations, such an advanced yet simple text-editor is very helpful and overcomes the many pains I have with MS word!

(1)   \begin{equation*} v_i(t) = |\mathbf v_i(t)| = \sqrt{u_i^2(t)+w_i^2(t)}. \end{equation*}

(2)   \begin{equation*} \mathbf a_i(t)= \frac{\mathbf v_i(t+\Delta t) - \mathbf v_i(t)}{\Delta t} = \frac{\mathbf r_i(t+\Delta t) - \mathbf 2r_i(t)+\mathbf r_i(t-\Delta t)}{\Delta t^2}, \end{equation*}

(3)   \begin{equation*} \rho(t)=\frac{1}{n}\sqrt{\left( \sum_{i=1}^{n}\sin(\psi_i(t))\right)^2+\left( \sum_{i=1}^{n}\cos(\psi_i(t))\right)^2} \end{equation*}

It was quite a steep learning curve, but I managed to write my first paper with it last week. The great thing is that it is also possible to use \LaTeX in wordpress (which I used to create this website). It is also the standard language for drafting preprint articles, which is increasingly suggested and done in the biological sciences, thus a very relevant skill to learn.