Swarms of animals, fish, birds, locusts etc. are a common occurrence but their coherence and method of organization poses a major question for mathematics and biology.The Vicsek and the Attraction-Repulsion are two models that have been proposed to explain the emergence of collective motion. A major issue for the Vicsek Model is that its particles are not attracted to each other, leaving the swarm with alignment in velocity but without spatial coherence. Restricting the particles to a bounded domain generates global spatial coherence of swarms while maintaining velocity alignment. While individual particles are specularly reflected at the boundary, the swarm as a whole is not. As a result, new dynamical swarming solutions are found.
The Attraction-Repulsion Model set with a long-range attraction and short-range repulsion interaction potential typically stabilizes to a well-studied flock steady state solution. The particles for a flock remain spatially coherent but have no spatial bound and explore all space. A bounded domain with specularly reflecting walls traps the particles within a specific region. A fundamental refraction law for a swarm impacting on a planar boundary is derived. The swarm reflection varies from specular for a swarm dominated by
kinetic energy to inelastic for a swarm dominated by potential energy. Inelastic collisions lead to alignment with the wall and to damped pulsating oscillations of the swarm. The fundamental refraction law provides a one-dimensional iterative map that allows for a prediction and analysis of the trajectory of the center of mass of a flock in a channel and a square domain.
The extension of the wall collisions to a scattering experiment is conducted by setting two identical flocks to collide. The two particle dynamics is studied analytically and shows a transition from scattering: diverging flocks to bound states in the form of oscillations or parallel motions. Numerical studies of collisions of flocks show the same transition where the bound states become either a single translating flock or a rotating (mill).