**Chaos theory** is a field of study in mathematics, with applications in several disciplines including physics, engineering, economics, biology, and philosophy. Chaos theory studies the behavior of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions, an effect which is popularly referred to as the butterfly effect. Small differences in initial conditions (such as those due to rounding errors in numerical computation) yield widely diverging outcomes for such dynamical systems, rendering long-term prediction impossible in general. This happens even though these systems are deterministic, meaning that their future behavior is fully determined by their initial conditions, with no random elements involved. In other words, the deterministic nature of these systems does not make them predictable. This behavior is known as deterministic chaos, or simply *chaos*.

Chaotic behavior can be observed in many natural systems, such as weather. Explanation of such behavior may be sought through analysis of a chaotic mathematical model, or through analytical techniques such as recurrence plots and Poincaré maps.

Read more about Chaos Theory: Chaotic Dynamics, History, Distinguishing Random From Chaotic Data, Applications, Cultural References

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### Famous quotes containing the words theory and/or chaos:

“We have our little *theory* on all human and divine things. Poetry, the workings of genius itself, which, in all times, with one or another meaning, has been called Inspiration, and held to be mysterious and inscrutable, is no longer without its scientific exposition. The building of the lofty rhyme is like any other masonry or bricklaying: we have theories of its rise, height, decline and fall—which latter, it would seem, is now near, among all people.”

—Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881)

“The maelstrom of fatherhood is a chance to show grace under real pressure, to be cool despite the *chaos* of your son’s room. That’s something that’s worth a fellow’s time.”

—Hugh O’Neill (20th century)