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Title: Mechanisms and Opportunities for the Design of Robust and Flexible Collective Behavior in Dynamic Multi-Agent Systems with Interactions
Authors: Pagliara Vasquez, Renato
Advisors: Leonard, Naomi E
Contributors: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department
Keywords: Collective Behavior
Distributed Systems
Epidemic Modeling
Multi-agent systems
Nonlinear Dynamics
Theoretical Biology
Subjects: Systems science
Applied mathematics
Mechanical engineering
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines the role of feedback and agent level adaptations in the emergence of collective behavior in multi-agent systems that is robust to perturbations and flexible in response to different environmental conditions. In particular, we consider systems with agents that stochastically interact with one another and with their environment, and study how adaptations at the agent level in response to these interactions lead to the emergence of complex group behavior that evolves in time. Motivated by the remarkable collective behaviors of animal groups, we study the regulation of foraging in harvester ants. We use field experiments and mathematical modeling to examine how interactions between incoming foragers carrying food and available foragers inside the nest yield foraging rates that are robust to uncertainty and responsive to temperature and humidity across minute-to-hour timescales. We show that feedback from outgoing foragers returning to the nest generates stable colony foraging rates and propose that foragers modify their susceptibility to interactions after they become exposed to the environment to explain how the foraging rates adjust to temperature and humidity. We then examine the role of reinfection and changes in susceptibility in contagion processes that propagate through local interactions. We study a model for reinfection called Susceptible-Infected-Recovered-Infected (SIRI) in which the susceptibility of individuals changes irreversibly after a first exposure to the infection. We show that in both well-mixed and network topologies, the transient and steady-state group dynamics are characterized by two critical system parameters that capture the sensitivity of the group to stimulus before and after the adjustments in susceptibility. We obtain analytical results that yield exact predictions on the effect of network structure and individual behavior on group outcomes. Our results suggest that agent level adaptations in susceptibility, in combination with feedback across different timescales, are a general principle for robust and flexible collective behavior. This presents mechanisms and opportunities for the study, design, and control of multi-agent systems with cohesive group behaviors that adapt to different conditions.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

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