EDWARD LORENZ (1917-2008)

1963 – USA

‘The behaviour of a dynamic system depends on its small initial conditions’

Photograph of EDWARD LORENZ ©

EDWARD LORENZ

While working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lorenz developed a simple computer model to forecast changes in weather at a number of places. In one of his equations he used a rounded number (for example 0.156 127 became 0.156); his model now predicted quite different conditions.
He suggested that even a small initial unpredictable condition such as a flapping butterfly could produce a larger global change in weather.

The butterfly effect is one aspect of chaos theory that describes disorderly systems. The behaviour of a chaotic system is difficult to predict because there are so many variable or unknown factors in the system.

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