Answers for "Chaos Theory"
from Interdisciplinary English by Loretta F. Kasper
© 1998

  1. Chaos theory is a mathematical theory that breaks down order into disorder. Chaos theory was first developed in the 1970's.

  2. A linear system is a system that follows a logical and regular pattern. Linear equations are easily solved because they measure things that are orderly.

  3. A swinging pendulum is an example of a linear system. It is linear because it follows a regular pattern.

  4. A nonlinear system is one that does not follow a logical or regular pattern and one that is depends a lot on the conditions at the beginning. Small changes disrupt the system. Nonlinear equations are difficult to solve because they measure events that are turbulent and do not follow a regular pattern.

  5. The weather is an example of a nonlinear system. Small changes in air pressure or wind speed lead to large and often unexpected changes in the weather.

  6. Examples of chaotic systems in the real world are: disease, political unrest, family problems, community problems, war, electric circuits, heart rhythms, animal populations, the stock market.

  7. No chaotic systems do not operate randomly. There is some logic and regularity to chaotic systems. Events within a chaotic system operate according to a predictable unpredictability.

  8. Three principles of chaos theory are:

    1. Chaotic systems are deterministic--they are ruled by an equation that determines how they operate

    2. Chaotic systems are very sensitive to beginning conditions. Whatever they start with determines how they develop and behave.

    3. Chaotic systems are unpredictable. Although they operate according to some kind of "order," you never really know how they are going to behave.

    Page last updated on November 30, 2001