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Name: courtney m butler
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Around 1995


Question:
I have recently read about the reference to the chaos theory. What exactly is this theory, and where is it being applied?


Replies:
Chaos Theory is an interdisciplinary branch of research being pursued by mathematicians, physicists, chemists, engineers, biologists, etc. (the list goes on and on).

The basic line of research was begun at the turn of the century by a mathematical physicist named Henri Poincare (France), who was trying to solve the 3-body problem of planetary motion.

Very grossly, chaos theory says that under certain conditions even very simple equations can, when solved numerically (perhaps on a computer), give rise to solutions which diverge from one another at a very fast (exponen- tial) rate. In the "chaotic regime" the rate of divergence can be so rapid that it is impossible to follow any one solution with any degree of accura- cy. So, what workers in the field often do is try to understand how FAMILIES of solutions behave. The behavior of these families can often be organized for fairly long times. People say that there is "order in chaos" when they discover such structures. Now, the thing about these structures is that certain ones seem to exist on a huge range of length scales, in principle, an infinite range.

And the manner in which the structures are repeated seems to be as if they are "moved through" a fractional-dimensional space, thus Mandelbrot called them "fractals." Have a look at James Gleick's book "Chaos:Making a New Science" for a better description.

rtopper



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