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Chaoticians have learned to expect
That each butterfly has an effect.
Is its flapping a crime
Against order and time?
All the oracles’ futures are wrecked! — Mike Scholtes, Butterfly Effect



Chaos Theory for Beginners; An Introduction (Abarim Publications)
Chaos & Fractals (Larry Bradley)


chaos : the inherent unpredictability in the behavior of a complex natural system — Webster

Chaos (CompLexicon, Exploratorium)

Free Dictionary, Wiktionary, OneLook


Roget’s II (, Merriam-Webster Thesaurus, Visuwords


Chaos may refer to any state of confusion or disorder. — Wikipedia

Encyclopædia Britannica






Chaos Theory is the field of study in mathematics that studies the behavior and condition of dynamical systems that are highly sensitive to initial conditions—a response 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. The theory was summarized by Edward Lorenz as:

Chaos: When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future.

Chaotic behavior exists in many natural systems, such as weather and climate. This behavior can be studied through analysis of a chaotic mathematical model, or through analytical techniques such as recurrence plots and Poincaré maps. Chaos theory has applications in several disciplines, including meteorology, sociology, physics, computer science, engineering, economics, biology, and philosophy. A traffic model was developed showing that the system dynamics can pass under certain conditions to chaos. — Wikipedia

The Secret Life of Chaos (BBC FOUR)
The Secret Life of Chaos (IMDb)

Butterfly Effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.

The term, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a tornado (the exact time of formation, the exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier. Lorenz discovered the effect when he observed that runs of his weather model with initial condition data that was rounded in a seemingly inconsequential manner would fail to reproduce the results of runs with the unrounded initial condition data. A very small change in initial conditions had created a significantly different outcome.

Though Lorenz gave a name to the phenomenon, the idea that small causes may have large effects in general and in weather specifically was earlier recognized by French mathematician and engineer Henri Poincaré and American mathematician and philosopher Norbert Wiener. Edward Lorenz’s work placed the concept of instability of the earth’s atmosphere onto a quantitative base and linked the concept of instability to the properties of large classes of dynamic systems which are undergoing nonlinear dynamics and deterministic chaos. — Wikipedia




Based on Chaos: Making a New Science (James Gleick, 1987)
Excerpt | Wikipedia | ISBNdb | WorldCat | Google | Amazon


How Chaos Theory Works (HowStuffWorks)




Edward N. Lorenz (Lorenz Center, MIT)
Predictability; Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s wings in Brazill Set Off a Tornado in Texas? (Edward N. Lorenz, MIT)

When the Butterfly Effect Took Flight (Peter Dizikes, MIT Technology Review)
From the butterfly’s wing to the tornado: Predicting turbulence (EurekAlert! AAAS)
Can a Butterfly in Brazil Really Cause a Tornado in Texas? (Natalie Wolchover, Live Science)
Understanding the Butterfly Effect (Jamie L. Vernon, American Scientist)


Quotations Page, Wikiquote


Abode of Chaos (Official Site)
Abode of Chaos (Wikipedia)


WorldCat, Library of Congress, UPenn Online Books, Open Library


Chaotic Bibliography
Biological Chaos and Complex Dynamics (David A. Vasseur, Oxford Bibliographies)




Chaos Theory (Learning Theories)


MERLOT: Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching
OER Commons: Open Educational Resources



Society for Chaos Theory


Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science (American Institute of Physics), NPR Archives


The Chaos Hypertextbook (Glenn Elert)


Managing Chaos and Complexity in Government: A New Paradigm for Managing Change, Innovation, and Organizational Renewal (L. Douglas Kiel)






Wolfram’s Chaos Game


Chaos – A mathematical adventure (YouTube Channel)


What does Chaos Theory have to do with Art? (Dean Wilcox)

Visual Arts

Gary Eyster – Chaos Theory and Art (Adam Free, The Engineering of Conscious Experience)

Language Arts

Popular Chaos Theory In Literature Books (Goodreads)


The flap of a butterfly’s wing
Causes chaos: that one little thing
Set the weather adrift,
Gave the markets a lift,
And made fractal bloke Mandelbrot king. — Rory Ewins, chaos theory

OEDILF: The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form


Song Lyrics




Here are links to pages about closely related subjects.

Knowledge Form
Philosophy Metaphysics, Logic, Epistemology, Ethics, Aesthetics
System, Cycle, Structure, Growth, Complexity, Control, Disturbance, Entropy, Chaos
Process, Manage, Design, Prototype, Implement, Assess, Revise, Maintain



1.   The resources on this page are are organized by a classification scheme developed exclusively for Cosma.