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Chaos theory?

  1. May 25, 2010 #1
    So I've recently been reading up a bit on Chaos theory. It seems like a pretty cool idea (that's all I can say about it, because I don't have a true, full understanding of it) but my question is this:

    Is it still being studied?

    I'm reading CHAOS by James Gleick(basically the definition of lay person's pop-sci book) in which they make it sound like the best new thing since sliced bread. However, it was published in 1987, and I just wanted to know if it is still as hotly pursued as it once was?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 26, 2010 #2

    HallsofIvy

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    It is now a recognized sub-field of mathematics but "sliced bread" it isn't. I think its "shining moment" came in "Jurassic Park", where Jeff Goldblum played a mathematician who kept chattering about "Chaos Theory"- what he said mostly proving that he had no idea what it was about!
     
  4. May 26, 2010 #3
    From Calculus to Chaos by David Acheson

    Would be a good book to follow Gleik if you seriously wanted more.
     
  5. May 26, 2010 #4
    Also "Chaos and Fractals" by Peitgen is the classic (popular) reference. Guess I think it is slice bread. Why do I think that? Gotta' good reason but lii' hard to explain. A lot of phenomena in nature are non-linear and subject to chaotic behavior. Like what Jack, I say to myself? Weather, . . . lemme' just Wikipedia it:

    I've done quite a bit of (non-professional) work in Chaos Theory so I am partial to it. Also, "Chaotic Dynamical Systems" by Devaney and while you're at it, his book "Differential Equations", by Blanchard, Devaney and Hall.

    Also T. Sejnowski (author of "The Computational Brain") suggests strange attractors, a particular form of chaos, may exists in the brain and serve some memory function, and I have personally observed Feigenbaum behavior in back-propagated neural networks.

    Describing (strange) attractors of chaotic dynamical systems is an achievements of Chaos Theory. While I'm on a roll, I should not exclude Rene' Thom and his work with a closely-related field Catastrophe Theory where he uses the concept of strange attractors to describe the process of morphogenesis in living systems.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2010
  6. May 26, 2010 #5
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