Thursday, April 17, 2008

Parent of Chaos theory...

...dead at 90.

Along with the other parent, Mandelbroit (who has made so many contributions to mathematics applied to markets), Edward Lorenz was the pioneer on the subject of "Sensitive dependence on initial conditions", or "chaos theory".

More of a meditation than a theory, it still holds great impact for those of us who attempt to discern movements between the "1st and the ith" variable (a cute way of saying that its really difficult to compute relationships when there are 100s of variables in a equation, and initial conditions are "fluid" at best).

I guess the final question is: Who gets custody of the kids" for these two giants of mathematics.

Full Article:

Relevant portion:

"As recounted in the book "Chaos" by James Gleick, Dr. Lorenz's
accidental discovery of chaos came in the winter of 1961. Dr. Lorenz
was running simulations of weather using a simple computer model. One
day, he wanted to repeat one of the simulations for a longer time, but
instead of repeating the whole simulation, he started the second run
in the middle, typing in numbers from the first run for the initial

The computer program was the same, so the weather patterns of the
second run should have exactly followed those of the first. Instead,
the two weather trajectories quickly diverged on completely separate

At first, he thought the computer was malfunctioning. Then he realized
that he had not entered the initial conditions exactly. The computer
stored numbers to an accuracy of six decimal places, like 0.506127,
while, to save space, the printout of results shortened the numbers to
three decimal places, 0.506. When typing in the new conditions, Dr.
Lorenz had entered the rounded-off numbers, and even this small
discrepancy, of less than 0.1 percent, completely changed the end

I can relate...

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