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Other titles in the Very Short Introductions series:
Chaos: A Very Short Introductionby Leonard Smith
Synopses & Reviews
This book provides a complete understanding of chaotic dynamics in mathematics, physics, and the real world, with an explanation of why it is important and how it differs from the idea of randomness. The author draws on certain physical systems and phenomena, for example the weather forecast, a pendulumn, a coin toss, mass transit, politics, and the role of chaos in gambling and the stock-market.
The first chapter (Whispers of Chaos) traces the pre-history of chaos; consisting of examples from literature and popular science prior to 1930 which show that the idea of chaos, of deterministic but unpredictable phenomena in physics, is an old one. Sources foe the examples include Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, and Arthur Conan Diyle, as well as scientists Machm Maxwell, Poincare and Eddington. The next two chapters define determinism and randomnessm and discuss the role of linerarity, nonlinearity and uncertainty in science, maintaining a non-technical tone. Chapter 4 introduces the first dynamical systems and corresponding equations, the evolution of each system will be discussed clearly so that an understanding of the equations will not be required, but will hopefully be achieved. Chapter 5 is a digression, introducing fractals and then showing their relation to both chaotic dynamics and to randomness. Chapter 6 discusses how one quantifies the growth of uncertainty in chaotic systems. Chapter 7 discusses the insights and limitations in predicting chaotic systems and explains how successful quantitative prediction of a wide variety of physical systems provides a great theoretical triumph. Forecasting chaos, is introduced here, and then explained in detail in the next chapter where ensemble weather forecasting is introduced adn explained. The implications chaotic dynamics holds for climate modeling and 'global warming' are also discussed. Chapter 9 looks at the role of chaos in gambling, the stock-market, and social sciences. The penultimate chapter will examine what implications chaos hols for philosophy and our view of the world, wile the last chapter will provide a brief summaryand attempt to forecast the future of chaos.
One of the most exciting and fast-growing areas of mathematics and physical science explained for the non-mathematician.
Chaos exists in systems all around us. Even the simplest system can be subject to chaos, denying us accurate predictions of its behavior, and sometimes giving rise to astonishing structures of large-scale order. Here, Leonard Smith shows that we all have an intuitive understanding of chaotic systems. He uses accessible math and physics to explain Chaos Theory, and points to numerous examples in philosophy and literature that illuminate the problems. This book provides a complete understanding of chaotic dynamics, using examples from mathematics, physics, philosophy, and the real world, with an explanation of why chaos is important and how it differs from the idea of randomness. The author's real life applications include the weather forecast, a pendulum, a coin toss, mass transit, politics, and the role of chaos in gambling and the stock market. Chaos represents a prime opportunity for mathematical lay people to finally get a clear understanding of this fascinating concept.
About the Author
Leonard Smith is a member of the Mathematics Faculty in Oxford and lectues on nonlinear dynamical systems and chaos.
Table of Contents
1. Whispers of Chaos
2. Determinism,Randomness, and Uncertainty
3. Nonlinear Dynamics and Unpredictable Physics
4. The Darling Bugs of May
5. Fractals, Strange Attractors, and Dimensions
6. The Dynamics of Uncertainty
7. Prediction and Prophesy in Physics
8. The Excuse of Chaos
9. The Newtonian Casino
10. Philosophy in Chaos
11. Shadows, Chaos, and the Future
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