# What is Chaos Theory?

I was curious what the Chaos Theory is.

The first discoverer of chaos can plausibly be argued to be Jacques Hadamard, who in 1898 published an influential study of the chaotic motion of a free particle gliding frictionlessly on a surface of constant negative curvature. In the system studied, Hadamard's billiards, Hadamard was able to show that all trajectories are unstable, in that all particle trajectories diverge exponentially from one another, with a positive Lyapunov exponent.

In the early 1900s Henri PoincarĂ©, while studying the three-body problem, found that there can be orbits which are nonperiodic, and yet not forever increasing nor approaching a fixed point. Much of the early theory was developed almost entirely by mathematicians, under the name of ergodic theory. Later studies, also on the topic of nonlinear differential equations, were carried out by G.D. Birkhoff, A.N. Kolmogorov, M.L. Cartwright, J.E. Littlewood, and Stephen Smale. Except for Smale, these studies were all directly inspired by physics: the three-body problem in the case of Birkhoff, turbulence and astronomical problems in the case of Kolmogorov, and radio engineering in the case of Cartwright and Littlewood. Although chaotic planetary motion had not been observed, experimentalists had encountered turbulence in fluid motion and nonperiodic oscillation in radio circuits without the benefit of a theory to explain what they were seeing.

Chaos theory progressed more rapidly after mid-century, when it first became evident for some scientists that linear theory, the prevailing system theory at that time, simply could not explain the observed behaviour of certain experiments like that of the logistic map. The main catalyst for the development of chaos theory was the electronic computer. Much of the mathematics of chaos theory involves the repeated iteration of simple mathematical formulas, which would be impractical to do by hand. Electronic computers made these repeated calculations practical. One of the earliest electronic digital computers, ENIAC, was used to run simple weather forecasting models.

An early pioneer of the theory was Edward Lorenz whose interest in chaos came about accidentally through his work on weather prediction in 1961. Lorenz was using a basic computer, a Royal McBee LGP-30, to run his weather simulation. He wanted to see a sequence of data again and to save time he started the simulation in the middle of its course. He was able to do this by entering a printout of the data corresponding to conditions in the middle of his simulation which he had calculated last time.

To his surprise the weather that the machine began to predict was completely different from the weather calculated before. Lorenz tracked this down to the computer printout. The printout rounded variables off to a 3-digit number, but the computer worked with 6-digit numbers. This difference is tiny and the consensus at the time would have been that it should have had practically no effect. However Lorenz had discovered that small changes in initial conditions produced large changes in the long-term outcome.

Yoshisuke Ueda independently identified a chaotic phenomenon as such by using an analog computer on November 27, 1961. The chaos exhibited by an analog computer is a real phenomenon, in contrast with those that digital computers calculate, which has a different kind of limit on precision. Ueda's supervising professor, Hayashi, did not believe in chaos, and thus he prohibited Ueda from publishing his findings until 1970.

The term chaos as used in mathematics was coined by the applied mathematician James A. Yorke.

The availability of cheaper, more powerful computers broadens the applicability of chaos theory. Currently, chaos theory continues to be a very active area of research.

In mathematics and physics, chaos theory describes the behavior of certain nonlinear dynamical systems that may exhibit dynamics that are highly sensitive to initial conditions (popularly referred to as the butterfly effect). As a result of this sensitivity, which manifests itself as an exponential growth of perturbations in the initial conditions, the behavior of chaotic systems appears to be random. This happens even though these systems are deterministic, meaning that their future dynamics are fully defined by their initial conditions, with no random elements involved. This behavior is known as deterministic chaos, or simply chaos.

Morbid- Right on! Damn Wikipedia!

I REFUSE TO BE ASSIMILATED!

I believe the Chaos Theory refers to the tendency of life to diverge from a pattern. A tiny, seemingly insignificant particle can change the course of existence. I.e. a butterfly, through a series of chain reactions, can "cause" a monsoon off the coast of Thailand.

Chaos Theory deals with non-linear things that are certainly impossible to predict or control with our current mental states, like weather, financial market, marriage etc.

isn't it supposed to be that if a butterfly flaps it's wings on one side of the planet it can cause a tornado on the other? sounds pretty chaotic to me...

I too can rip off wikipedia with no sources given. :D However, I choose not to.

Anything that can happen, will happen.

Hell = Predictability.