Scale invariance in natural and artificial collective systems: A review

Yara Khaluf*, Eliseo Ferrante, Pieter Simoens, Cristián Huepe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Self-organized collective coordinated behaviour is an impressive phenomenon, observed in a variety of natural and artificial systems, in which coherent global structures or dynamics emerge from local interactions between individual parts. If the degree of collective integration of a system does not depend on size, its level of robustness and adaptivity is typically increased and we refer to it as scale-invariant. In this review, we first identify three main types of self-organized scale-invariant systems: scale-invariant spatial structures, scale-invariant topologies and scale-invariant dynamics. We then provide examples of scale invariance from different domains in science, describe their origins and main features and discuss potential challenges and approaches for designing and engineering artificial systems with scale-invariant properties.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20170662
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number136
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Collective behaviour
  • Distributed systems and control
  • Scale-free networks
  • Scale-invariant dynamics


Dive into the research topics of 'Scale invariance in natural and artificial collective systems: A review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this