Mathematics Seminar

Illuminating Chaos
by Michael Field , Rice University
2014-03-27, 02:00 PM in NSB 148


It is commonly believed that randomness and chaos are the opposite of structure and

form. Yet physical theories – such as quantum mechanics – suggest that randomness

plays a critical role in physics and chemistry. Life itself, depending as it does on

statistical laws of genetics and inheritance, gives another example of the structure that

can occur in a process that depends crucially on randomness.

In this talk we discuss chaos in physical systems (what it is and is not, how we measure

it, and why it is interesting). We illustrate how randomness and structure can coexist by

exploring a number of simple mathematical models of chaos. The talk will include a

number of visualizations of the remarkable geometry and structure that can be found in

chaotic systems.

The talk is intended for a general audience and will have a significant visual component.

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