Selecting a common direction II. Peak-like solutions representing total alignment of cell clusters

Alexander Mogilner, Leah Edelstein-Keshet, G. Bard Ermentrout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The problem of alignment of cells (or other objects) that interact in an angle-dependent way was described in Mogilner and Edelstein-Keshet (1995). In this sequel we consider in detail a special limiting case of nearly complete alignment. This occurs when the rotational diffusion of individual objects becomes very slow. In this case, the motion of the objects is essentially deterministic, and the individuals or objects tend to gather in clusters at various orientations. (Numerical solutions show that the angular distribution develops sharp peaks at various discrete orientations.) To understand the behaviour of the deterministic models with analytic tools, we represent the distribution as a number of δ-like peaks. This approximation of a true solution by a set of (infinitely sharp) peaks will be referred to as the peak ansatz. For weak but nonzero angular diffusion, the peaks are smoothed out. The analysis of this case leads to a singular perturbation problem which we investigate. We briefly discuss other applications of similar techniques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)811-842
Number of pages32
JournalJournal Of Mathematical Biology
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1996


  • Orientation selection
  • Parallel cells
  • Peak ansatz
  • Total alignment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Mathematics


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