Joint Mathematics/IAM Colloquium
3:30 p.m., Friday
Math 100
Professor Steven Strogatz
Department of Theoretical & Applied Mechanics and
Center for Applied Mathematics
Cornell University
Synchronous Fireflies
At night in some parts of southeast Asia,
thousands of male fireflies gather in the trees and flash on and off
in unison. (A videotape of this spectacular phenomenon will be shown.)
Such collective synchronization occurs throughout all of biology, from
chorusing crickets to the rhythmic firing of cardiac pacemaker cells.
In this talk, I will discuss a simple mathematical model for
synchronization in a population of N coupled oscillators. The main
theorem is that for all N and for almost all initial conditions,
the model evolves to a state where all the oscillators are firing
synchronously. Some good open problems for undergraduate investigation
will be mentioned. (This is joint work with Rennie Mirollo, Boston
College.)
