Elastic and inelastic collisions of swarms

Hans Armbruster, Stephan Martin, Andrea Thatcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Scattering interactions of swarms in potentials that are generated by an attraction–repulsion model are studied. In free space, swarms in this model form a well-defined steady state describing the translation of a stable formation of the particles whose shape depends on the interaction potential. Thus, the collision between a swarm and a boundary or between two swarms can be treated as (quasi)-particle scattering. Such scattering experiments result in internal excitations of the swarm or in bound states, respectively. In addition, varying a parameter linked to the relative importance of damping and potential forces drives transitions between elastic and inelastic scattering of the particles. By tracking the swarm's center of mass, a refraction rule is derived via simulations relating the incoming and outgoing directions of a swarm hitting the wall. Iterating the map derived from the refraction law allows us to predict and understand the dynamics and bifurcations of swarms in square boxes and in channels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-57
Number of pages13
JournalPhysica D: Nonlinear Phenomena
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Attraction–repulsion model
  • Swarm models
  • Swarm reflection
  • Swarm scattering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Applied Mathematics


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