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Phys Rev Lett. 2007 Mar 2;98(9):095702. Epub 2007 Mar 2.

Phase transitions in systems of self-propelled agents and related network models.

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Instituto de Ciencias Físicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Apartado Postal 48-3, Cuernavaca, Morelos 62251, México.


An important characteristic of flocks of birds, schools of fish, and many similar assemblies of self-propelled particles is the emergence of states of collective order in which the particles move in the same direction. When noise is added into the system, the onset of such collective order occurs through a dynamical phase transition controlled by the noise intensity. While originally thought to be continuous, the phase transition has been claimed to be discontinuous on the basis of recently reported numerical evidence. We address this issue by analyzing two representative network models closely related to systems of self-propelled particles. We present analytical as well as numerical results showing that the nature of the phase transition depends crucially on the way in which noise is introduced into the system.

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