Lorenz, Edward Norton

Lorenz, Edward Norton,

1917–2008, American meteorologist and pioneer of chaos theorychaos theory,
in mathematics, physics, and other fields, a set of ideas that attempts to reveal structure in aperiodic, unpredictable dynamic systems such as cloud formation or the fluctuation of biological populations.
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, b. West Hartford, Conn., Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1948. Lorenz became interested in meteorology while working as a weather forecaster during World War II, and after earning his doctorate in meteorology taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1948–1987). In 1961, while working with computer models to determine why it was so difficult to predict weather accurately, he stumbled upon what is now known as chaos theory or deterministic chaos. His work in chaotic behavior in the mathematical modeling of weather systems led to a 1972 talk entitled "Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?" that gave chaos theory the term "butterfly effect" for the concept that small changes in the initial conditions of a nonlinear system can produce a major change in the results (see nonlinear dynamicsnonlinear dynamics,
study of systems governed by equations in which a small change in one variable can induce a large systematic change; the discipline is more popularly known as chaos (see chaos theory).
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).

Bibliography

See J. Gleick, Chaos (1987).

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