It is collaboration that allows me to learn and inspires me to work. I enjoy the collective effort involved in the type of research I do. It is probably the importance of social interactions in my own life that led me to the research topic of this book. Is it then a contradiction to this view of the world that I chose to shut myself up and write a book by myself? I don’t think so. Although I like working with others, anyone who works with me can confirm that I can be slightly single minded about how I do things. Writing this book has provided an outlet for my own impressions and ideas, which has hopefully allowed me to keep a better balance in my collaborations with others.
There are five biologists, all of whom I met during my final year as a doctoral student, who have greatly contributed to the thinking on which this book is based. Stephen Pratt, Madeleine Beekman, Iain Couzin, Max Reuter, and Dora Biro have in very different ways taught me how to think as a biologist, as well as provided me with endless hours of conversation, entertainment, gossip, intrigue, and downright drunken scandal that has enriched my working life over the last 10 years.
There are two people who have shaped the way I think about mathematics and modeling and I whom would like to thank especially. Having Dave Broomhead as a PhD supervisor taught me a way of approaching the world that has stayed with me ever since and, I hope, is reflected in every mathematical box in this book. Many conversations with Ander Johansson have contributed not only to my understanding of mathematics, but also to its possibilities and limitations in describing science.
Many other people have either commented directly on the text of this book or have, possibly unwittingly, contributed to it through conversation, email exchange, or the odd sentence stolen from a joint paper. These include: Äke Brännström, Jerome Buhl, Lisa Collins, Larissa Conradt, Jean-Louis Deneubourg, Audrey Dussutour, Kevin Foster, Nigel Franks, Deborah Gordon, Michael Griesser, Joe Hale, Peter Hedström, Kerri Hicks, David Hughes, Duncan Jackson, Neil Johnson, Christian Jost, Alex Kacelnik, Jens Krause, Laurent Lehmann, Esther Miller, Stam Nicolis, Andrea Perna, Sophie Persey, Francis Ratnieks, Steve Simpson, Guy Theraulaz, Ashley Ward, Jamie Wood and Kit Yates. A special thank you to Graeme Ruxton and the two other anonymous reviewers for their highly constructive comments on various drafts of the book.