Discontinuous and continuous transitions of collective behaviors in living systems

Xu Li, Tingting Xue, Yu Sun, Jingfang Fan, Hui Li, Maoxin Liu, Zhangang Han, Zengru Di, Xiaosong Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Living systems are full of astonishing diversity and complexity of life. Despite differences in the length scales and cognitive abilities of these systems, collective motion of large groups of individuals can emerge. It is of great importance to seek for the fundamental principles of collective motion, such as phase transitions and their natures. Via an eigen microstate approach, we have found a discontinuous transition of density and a continuous transition of velocity in the Vicsek models of collective motion, which are identified by the finite-size scaling form of order-parameter. At strong noise, living systems behave like gas. With the decrease of noise, the interactions between the particles of a living system become stronger and make them come closer. The living system experiences then a discontinuous gas-liquid like transition of density. The even stronger interactions at smaller noise make the velocity directions of the particles become ordered and there is a continuous phase transition of collective motion in addition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number128703
JournalChinese Physics B
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • eigen mircostate
  • living systems
  • phase emergence
  • phase transitions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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