Social groups such as schools of fish or flocks of birds display collective dynamics that can be modulated by group leaders, which facilitate decision-making toward a consensus state beneficial to the entire group. For instance, leaders could alert the group about attacking predators or the presence of food sources. Motivated by biological insight on social groups, we examine a stochastic leader–follower consensus problem where information sharing among agents is affected by perceptual constraints and each individual has a different tendency to form social connections. Leveraging tools from stochastic stability and eigenvalue perturbation theories, we study the consensus protocol in a mean-square sense, offering necessary-and-sufficient conditions for asymptotic stability and closed-form estimates of the convergence rate. Surprisingly, the prediction of our minimalistic model share similarities with observed traits of animal and human groups. Our analysis anticipates the counterintuitive result that heterogeneity can be beneficial to group decision-making by improving the convergence rate of the consensus protocol. This observation finds support in theoretical and empirical studies on social insects such as spider or honeybee colonies, as well as human teams, where inter-individual variability enhances the group performance.
|Number of pages||20|
|Journal||Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences|
|Publication status||Published - 1-Jan-2020|
- Opinion dynamics