Abstract. We formulate a Lagrangian (individual-based) model to investigate the spacing of individuals in a social aggregate (e.g., swarm, flock, school, or herd). Mutual interactions of swarm members have been expressed as the gradient of a potential function in previous theoretical studies. In this specific case, one can construct a Lyapunov function, whose minima correspond to stable stationary states of the system. The range of repulsion (r) and attraction (a) must satisfy r<afor cohesive groups (i.e., short range repulsion and long range attraction). We show quantitatively how repulsion must dominate attraction (Rr d+1>cAa d+1 where R,A are magnitudes, c is a constant of order 1, and d is the space dimension) to avoid collapse of the group to a tight cluster. We also verify the existence of a well-spaced locally stable state, having a characteristic individual distance. When the number of individuals in a group increases, a dichotomy occurs between swarms in which individual distance is preserved versus those in which the physical size of the group is maintained at the expense of greater crowding. 1
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