# chaos

### See Also

### Definition

*Chaos theory* is the branch of mathematics that deals with chaotic systems-where apparent arbitrarily unpredictable consequences result from a small arbitrary shift from equilibrium in a complex system. This theory attempts to explain the highly complex behavior of apparently complex systems. Chaos theory searches for the underlying order in these systems, much like systems thinking. The difference is, chaos theory delves into far more complex systems than systems thinking.

Chaos, or *chaos theory*, ""describes the behavior of certain nonlinear dynamical systems that under certain conditions exhibit a phenomenon known as chaos. Among the characteristics of chaotic systems, described below, is the sensitivity to initial conditions (popularly referred to as the butterfly effect). As a result of this sensitivity, the behavior of systems that exhibit chaos appears to be random, exhibiting an exponential error dispersion, even though the system is deterministic in the sense that it is well defined and contains no random parameters. Examples of such systems include the atmosphere, the solar system, plate tectonics, turbulent fluids, economics, and population growth, and the vast variety of thermodynamically open systems operating far from equilibrium.

... this technical use of the word chaos is at odds with common parlance, which suggests complete disorder.""

""As well as being orderly in the sense of being deterministic, chaotic systems usually have well defined statistics. For example, the Lorentz system pictured is chaotic, but has a clearly defined structure. Weather is chaotic, but its statistics - climate - is not.""

Source: chaos theory. Reference.com. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Chaos_theory (accessed: November 15, 2006).