Butterfly Effect

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Butterfly Effect

The butterfly effect is a way of illustrating sensitivity to initial conditions, an aspect of Chaos theory. It can be shown that, in sufficiently complex systems governed by Newtonian physics, the system’s state depends so critically on the initial conditions that, given enough time, its final state will be unpredictable. This is not a case of randomness, but of apparent randomness. The way Stephen Wolfram puts it, it is the randomness in the decimal values of the initial conditions that gets leaked into the system, even though there is no randomness in the physical laws themselves.

To illustrate this point, one may say that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in India may cause a storm in New York, given enough time.

Chaotic behavior makes predicting the weather an extremely difficult task.

For more information, see the Wikipedia article.

An illustration of the Butterfly Effect.

A brief introduction to Chaos Theory.

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