Think in Reverse

Example Of a Complex Adaptive System: Crowd Dynamics September 6, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — clairelester @ 3:03 am

This video shows a simulated example of a large crowd having to evacuate a closed in area, through restrained paths. The parts of the system here are clearly the simulated people who are represented by colorful dots. We know from the experience of being in a crowd that these parts of the system are affected by each other. For instance, in this example, we know that through the parts in the system the information of where the exits are would quickly spread throughout the group. We can see also that these parts produce an effect that is ‘different from the effect of each part on its own,’ from the patterns the large crowd creates by self organizing and streaming through the exit ways. The
last qualification that makes this event a system is that the behavior of the crowd would persist in a variety of circumstances. Seeing that the same type of simulation could be recreated endlessly, only changing the exit locations, we know this to be true. A group of people would always respond routinely to an evacuation the same way: trying to find the closest exit to get out as fast as possible, all the while communicating with the people around them to help them reach these goals. (pg. 13, Meadows)


3 Responses to “Example Of a Complex Adaptive System: Crowd Dynamics”

  1. annesleyb Says:

    Crowds are an excellent example of systems, because there isn’t one set leader, yet the flow of information moves quickly through the mass and leads everyone in the right directions. It’s unbelievable how rapidly people figure out the nearest exit, yet the self-organization factor of this type of system can explain this quick reaction time.

  2. mstackman Says:

    Claire, I also found Professor Sherman’s example about crowds extremely interesting. It’s amazing how humans mindlessly follow each other. It is human nature to find the easiest way out but it is also an animal instinct. You could look up a video of most other animals and you would find similar group reactions. I wonder the difference between human crowds and the ant study we looked at in class.

  3. jjh2ze Says:

    I think crowds are a great example of systems, Claire! I wonder how frequently we can see this here at UVa during busy class times? The video demonstrates this very well, and reminds me of the A-School as Studio lets out, or the rush to the Fine Arts Cafe following our morning lectures!

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