(Bloomberg) -- Wu Haishan was at Princeton University studying how schools of fish swim together when the crowd behavior of a much bigger group grabbed his attention: 1.35 billion fellow Chinese.

It was Lunar New Year back home in 2014, and Baidu Inc., operator of the country’s biggest search engine, had created an animation of all the trips people in China make during the holiday -- the largest annual human migration. He soon joined the company as a data scientist in Beijing, where he’s tracking user location information to produce economic gauges such as which urban areas are ghost cities and how many people are buying cars.

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