ABSTRACT There are many instances of collective behaviors in the natural world. For example, eukaryotic cells coordinate their motion to heal wounds; bacteria swarm during colony expansion; defects in alignment in growing bacterial populations lead to biofilm growth; and birds move within dynamic flocks. Although the details of how these groups behave vary across animals and species, they share the same qualitative feature: they exhibit collective behaviors that are not simple extensions of details associated with the motion of an individual. To learn more about these biological systems, we propose studying these systems through the lens of the foundational Vicsek model. Here, we present the process of building this computational model from scratch in a tutorial format that focuses on building the appropriate skills of an undergraduate student. In doing so, an undergraduate student should be able to work alongside this article, the corresponding tutorial, and the original manuscript of the Vicsek model to build their own model. We conclude by summarizing some of the current work involving computational modeling of flocking with Vicsek-type models.

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