chaos theory

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chaos theory

In: Mathematics

Chaos theory is relating to systems which display chaotic behaviour. Chaotic does not mean random, far from it–we know how these systems work and can define equations which describe them pretty well. The problem arises because those equations, simple as they are, display a property called “sensitive dependence on initial conditions”, otherwise known as the butterfly effect–basically, if you do two runs of the equations with the tiniest difference between the starting values in each case, the results will rapidly diverge until they’re completely different after a fairly short time.

The Earth’s atmosphere is such a system, which is why accurate weather forecasts will simply never be possible for more than a week or so ahead.