**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 PoincarĂ© 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:

“A *theory* if you hold it hard enough

And long enough gets rated as a creed....”

—Robert Frost (1874–1963)

“Before the land rose out of the ocean, and became dry land, *chaos* reigned; and between high and low water mark, where she is partially disrobed and rising, a sort of *chaos* reigns still, which only anomalous creatures can inhabit.”

—Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)