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from Interdisciplinary English by Loretta F. Kasper

© 1998

- Chaos theory is a mathematical theory that breaks down order into disorder. Chaos theory was first developed in the 1970's.
- 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.
- A swinging pendulum is an example of a linear system. It is linear because it follows a regular pattern.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
**Three principles of chaos theory are:**- Chaotic systems are deterministic--they are ruled by an equation that determines how they operate
- Chaotic systems are very sensitive to beginning conditions. Whatever they start with determines how they develop and behave.
**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 - Chaotic systems are deterministic--they are ruled by an equation that determines how they operate