Framework for Inferring Following Strategies from Time Series of Movement Data

4 Nov 2019  ·  Chainarong Amornbunchornvej, Tanya Berger-Wolf ·

How do groups of individuals achieve consensus in movement decisions? Do individuals follow their friends, the one predetermined leader, or whomever just happens to be nearby? To address these questions computationally, we formalize "Coordination Strategy Inference Problem". In this setting, a group of multiple individuals moves in a coordinated manner towards a target path. Each individual uses a specific strategy to follow others (e.g. nearest neighbors, pre-defined leaders, preferred friends). Given a set of time series that includes coordinated movement and a set of candidate strategies as inputs, we provide the first methodology (to the best of our knowledge) to infer whether each individual uses local-agreement-system or dictatorship-like strategy to achieve movement coordination at the group level. We evaluate and demonstrate the performance of the proposed framework by predicting the direction of movement of an individual in a group in both simulated datasets as well as two real-world datasets: a school of fish and a troop of baboons. Moreover, since there is no prior methodology for inferring individual-level strategies, we compare our framework with the state-of-the-art approach for the task of classification of group-level-coordination models. The results show that our approach is highly accurate in inferring the correct strategy in simulated datasets even in complicated mixed strategy settings, which no existing method can infer. In the task of classification of group-level-coordination models, our framework performs better than the state-of-the-art approach in all datasets. Animal data experiments show that fish, as expected, follow their neighbors, while baboons have a preference to follow specific individuals. Our methodology generalizes to arbitrary time series data of real numbers, beyond movement data.

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