What the Boids?
What is this project about?
The “Boids” idea
As per Wikipedia’s definition, Boids is an artificial life program, developed by Craig Reynolds in 1986, which simulates the flocking behaviour of birds. I have encountered two derivations of the term “boids”. One says it is a shorthand for “bird-oid”, in other words, “bird-like” objects. The other suggests it stems from the way that New Yorkers pronounce the word “birds”. Leaving aside the story of the term, Reynold’s Boids model (also referred to as flocking algorithm) follows three simple rules:
- separation: steer to avoid crowding
- alignment: steer towards the average heading of local flockmates
- cohesion: steer to move toward the average position of local flockmates
What is phenomenal about Reynold’s model is that using these plain rules only on single units it generates behaviour strongly resembling a real flock’s one. Just as in the Game of Life the result is surprisingly complex and realistic. Boids are one of many experiments in the field of so-called swarm intelligence characterized by the lack of centralized control agent: each boid follows its own rules, still resulting in a surprising group behaviour.
Here is a nice visualization and further explanation of the idea: