*Macmillan Science Library: Mathematics*. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.

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## Chaos

The word "chaos" is used in mathematics to mean something other than what it means in everyday English. In English, we speak of chaos as a state in which everything has gone awry, there is complete disorder, and there are no rules governing this behavior. In mathematics, chaotic systems are well defined and follow strict mathematical rules. Although chaotic systems are unpredictable, they do have certain patterns and structure, and they can be mathematically modeled, often by an equation or a system of equations.

Chaos theory is the study of systems that change over time and are inherently unpredictable. Some systems, such as Earth's orbit about the Sun, are very predictable over long periods of time. Other systems, such as the weather, are notoriously unpredictable. Chaos theory builds a mathematical framework to account for unpredictable systems, like the weather, which behave in a seemingly random fashion.

The last...

This section contains 1,866 words(approx. 7 pages at 300 words per page) |