Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Swarming Starlings Help Probe Plasma, Crowds and Stock Market

10.08.2007
Researchers at the University of Warwick’s Physics Department’s Centre for Fusion, Space and Astrophysics have found a powerful technique that could be used to detect precisely when ordered patterns form in everything from plasma in the solar wind and fusion reactors, to crowds of people, or flocks of birds. The technique could even be used to find unusual patterns in stock market behaviour.

The researchers began their work in a research group interested in plasmas. These are difficult to study at the best of times because the opportunities to view plasma in the solar wind are limited by the small number of satellites observing such things and plasmas in nuclear fusion reactions are obviously not easily accessible.

The University of Warwick researchers were particularly interested in how complex systems such as plasma, crowds of people, or flocks of birds suddenly move from a disordered random state to an ordered one. To crack this problem they developed a technique that combines an earlier study of the flocking behavior of large groups of birds and insects with information technology used to correlate information from a range of parallel signals.

University of Warwick physicist Robert Wicks hit upon the idea of using an information technology tool called mutual information that can detect patterns and correlations from a very small set of points (typically 10 within a large system). In theory he believed that this method would be much more accurate than the normal statistical analysis of such dynamic systems such as crowds or plasmas and it should be particularly good at picking up the “phase transitions” from disorder to order in such complicated systems.

Initially the researchers were stumped as to how to test this theory. The very complexity (and often inaccessibility) that caused the observation problems they were trying to overcome meant there was no accurate real world date set to check their new technique against.

The solution came from the work of Hungarian researcher Tamás Vicsek, Professor of Physics in the Department of Biological Physics of Eotvos University, Budapest. An expert in the flocking behaviour of birds and insects.

Professor Viscek had devised a simple model to replicate the flocking behaviour of colonies of bacteria or large groups of birds and insects such as flocking starlings or swarming locusts. The Warwick research team recognized that the patterns model produced the same sort of order to disorder phase transitions that would be an ideal test for their mutual information based tool.

They applied their “mutual information” based technique to a Viscek model sampling the “signal” from a small number of points within the model and compared their technique to traditional statistical tools used to examine the behaviour of such dynamic systems. They found that in terms of error rate their “mutual information” based technique was four times better than traditional methods in understanding how and when these systems moved from disorder to order.

The new tool has obvious benefits in opening up new understandings of plasmas, crowds and flocking birds and insects but the University of Warwick research team think it could also be used for stock market analysis

The technique is particularly good at uncovering clumping of particles, movements from order to disorder, and correlating the performance of several points within a dynamic system. Taken together if the technique was applied to stock market shifts it could uncover patterns of clumping in the moving of different stocks. This could help market analysts uncover new and unexpected market connections and mutual dependencies between companies that had no obvious connection yet seem to share similar movements in share price.

Peter Dunn | alfa
Further information:
http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/swarming_starlings_help/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Physicists Design Ultrafocused Pulses
27.07.2017 | Universität Innsbruck

nachricht CCNY physicists master unexplored electron property
26.07.2017 | City College of New York

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Physicists Design Ultrafocused Pulses

Physicists working with researcher Oriol Romero-Isart devised a new simple scheme to theoretically generate arbitrarily short and focused electromagnetic fields. This new tool could be used for precise sensing and in microscopy.

Microwaves, heat radiation, light and X-radiation are examples for electromagnetic waves. Many applications require to focus the electromagnetic fields to...

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Programming cells with computer-like logic

27.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Identified the component that allows a lethal bacteria to spread resistance to antibiotics

27.07.2017 | Life Sciences

Malaria Already Endemic in the Mediterranean by the Roman Period

27.07.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>