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How to Free Your Inner MathematicianNotes on Mathematics and Life$
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Susan D'Agostino

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198843597

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198843597.001.0001

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Resist comparison, because of chaos theory

Resist comparison, because of chaos theory

(p.53) 8 Resist comparison, because of chaos theory
How to Free Your Inner Mathematician

Susan D'Agostino

Oxford University Press

“Resist comparison, because of chaos theory” tells the story of Massachusetts Institute of Technology meteorologist Edward Lorenz who, while working on long-term weather forecasting in 1961, inadvertently upended notions of a Newtonian universe and ignited a scientific revolution by discovering chaos theory. The discussion of how a small change in an initial condition may effect a dramatic change in outcome is enhanced by numerous hand-drawn sketches. Also included are popular culture references to the “butterfly effect” in which the flap of a butterfly’s wings sets off a far-off tornado. Mathematics students and enthusiasts are encouraged to resist comparing mathematical paths when working with a friend as small differences in starting places may lead to different outcomes. At the chapter’s end, readers may check their understanding by working on a problem. A solution is provided.

Keywords:   chaos, Edward Lorenz, butterfly effect, math, student

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