Simulating a starling murmuration

Starlings

A recurrent question about UnitySteer is how to implement behavior like that of a flock of starlings (seems that Mr. Reynolds was right on the money when he chose flocking for his paper).

Usually the person who writes mentions that their implementation is “getting there”, but they’re not quite happy with the result yet. The main issue with the question is that if the results are right or not are all about perception - it’s not a problem where there is a single, provably optimal solution.

With that in mind, I’ll detail some of the aspects of the starlings from the video above, and mention how you can mimic them in UnitySteer.

Visualizing TVTropes - Concept exploration

Introduction

Tropology is an experiment in visualizing conceptual networks from TVTropes. The initial idea was that, starting from a chosen concept, we could visualize the list of tropes and articles it referenced, along with the relationships between them.

Experimenting with the data, which even after some judicious pruning includes over 220 thousand nodes and 11 million relationships, led me to quickly conclude that the model was too widely connected. We couldn’t just visualize the raw data and needed to apply some sort of direction in order to make the visualizations sensible.

Let’s see how to go about that.

Tropology performance: PostgreSQL vs Neo4j

Or, apples vs. papaya salad.

Short version: I’ve moved Tropology to PostgreSQL for performance reasons, and because after some evaluation, Neo4j wasn’t as good a fit as it seemed at first blush.

You may want to start by catching up with the other Tropology articles.

All done?

Visualizing TVTropes - Part 4: Merges

Episode IV: A new approach

We got better performance with the last changes I made to the import process, at the cost of parallelization and a significantly less clean Clojure codebase.

As I was going about wrapping them up, I got a recommendation from Michael Hunger. Summarized:

  • Don’t use the batch REST API
  • The Cypher query endpoint is outdated
  • Try merges

Well then. So much for that feature branch.

Visualizing TVTropes - Part 3: Proper batching

The story so far

Yesterday we were discussing our (admittedly) somewhat ghetto, not-quite-batched Neo4j implementation.

The long and short of it is that I was initially attacking the import process as one would on a JDBC client for a relational database. Query for these values here, create those if some don’t exist, insert relationships here, etc.

That seems to be woefully inefficient in Neo4j.

Visualizing TVTropes - Part 2: Neo4j optimizations

Welcome. You may want to first catch up on Part 1 of this little experiment.

All done? OK then.

Visualizing TVTropes - Part 1

Introduction

This is the first part of a series of articles on a small experiment I’m building. The intent is to crawl TVTropes, to find possible relationships between tropes and the material they appear in, as well as shared concepts.

I want to be able to not only visualize a concept and the tropes that it links to, but also how they relate to each other. A bonus would be being able to query how far away a concept is from another - for instance, how many steps we need to take before we can go from Cowboy Bebop to Macross Missile Massacre.

Chasing after NoSuchMethodError: com.google.common.io.ByteStreams.limit

This one bit me a bit hard and, seeing as I could find only one reference for it in the context of Clojure and Leiningen, I thought a small write-up would help.

After including some ClojureScript code on my project, lein started barfing when I attempted to build an uberjar with any optimization settings other than none.

Exception in thread “main” java.lang.NoSuchMethodError: com.google.common.io.ByteStreams.limit(Ljava/io/InputStream;J)Ljava/io/InputStream;, compiling:(/private/var/folders/64/ckdtdxm14059n9wh8rhf1mvw0000gn/T/form-init527739448955044836.clj:1:123)

There was only one obscure reference I found, from an IRC chat now a couple of years old. My first thought was that something in the ClojureScript code was throwing off the compiler, but it seemed odd that this would trigger a call to a specific non-existent method.

Other searches - outside of the lein context - made me realize it was actually a dependency conflict, and only triggered on uberjar because since there wasn’t any ClojureScript code deployed before the compiler hadn’t had to be invoked.

Calling

lein deps :tree

showed there were multiple versions of com.google.guava being referenced, with the one used by ClojureScript being 18.0 but a much older 11.0.1 being referenced by urly. Seems like lein either doesn’t realize there’s a conflict or defaults to the older library, which was causing the error when ClojureScript attempted to build.

ClojureScript vs. CoffeeScript for Processing sketches

DECEMBER 2015 UPDATE: I’ve run some tests with the latest ClojureScript and made some minor changes to the code, which significantly improved performance. Read this post for updated numbers. Keeping this post around for archival reasons.

The set up

This whole thing started not as a performance test, but as me experimenting with ClojureScript and Quil while reading Matt Pearson’s Generative Art. As such, it is not the most scientific of comparisons, and instead born out of my notes when exploring how to do sketches with ClojureScript for the web.

Consider the following example:

CoffeeScript

CoffeeScript is a huge improvement, but underneath all that synctactic sugar it’s clearly still Javascript:

Wat