Communicating through motion in dance and animal groups
Ozcimder, Hasan Kayhan
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This study explores principles of motion based communication in animal and human group behavior. It develops models of cooperative control that involve communication through actions aimed at a shared objective. Moreover, it aims at understanding the collective motion in multi-agent models towards a desired objective which requires interaction with the environment. In conducting a formal study of these problems, first we investigate the leader-follower interaction in a dance performance. Here, the prototype model is salsa. Salsa is of interest because it is a structured interaction between a leader (usually a male dancer) and a follower (usually a female dancer). Success in a salsa performance depends on how effectively the dance partners communicate with each other using hand, arm and body motion. We construct a mathematical framework in terms of a Dance Motion Description Language (DMDL). This provides a way to specify control protocols for dance moves and to represent every performance as sequences of letters and corresponding motion signals. An enhanced form of salsa (intermediate level) is discussed in which the constraints on the motion transitions are described by simple rules suggested by topological knot theory. It is shown that the proficiency hierarchy in dance is effectively captured by proposed complexity metrics. In order to investigate the group behavior of animals that are reacting to environmental features, we have analyzed a large data set derived from 3-d video recordings of groups of Myotis velifer emerging from a cave. A detailed statistical analysis of large numbers of trajectories indicates that within certain bounds of animal diversity, there appear to be common characteristics of the animals' reactions to features in a clearly defined flight corridor near the mouth of the cave. A set of vision-based motion control primitives is proposed and shown to be effective in synthesizing bat-like flight paths near groups of obstacles. A comparison of synthesized paths and actual bat motions culled from our data set suggests that motions are not based purely on reactions to environmental features. Spatial memory and reactions to the movement of other bats may also play a role. It is argued that most bats employ a hybrid navigation strategy that combines reactions to nearby obstacles and other visual features with some combination of spatial memory and reactions to the motions of other bats.