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Such movements are a prime example of emergent behavior: the behavior is not a property of any individual bird, but rather emerges as a property of the group itself. There is no leader, no overall control; instead the flock's movements are determined by the moment-by-moment decisions of individual birds, following simple rules in response to interactions with their neighbors in the flock.
Reynolds' three fundamental "laws" of flocking are: (1) separation – steer to avoid crowding local flockmates; (2) alignment – steer towards the average heading of local flockmates; and (3) cohesion – steer to move toward the average position of local flockmates.