Chaos Theory

chaos 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. Although chaotic systems obey certain rules that can be described by mathematical equations, chaos theory shows the difficulty of predicting their long-range behavior. In the last half of the 20th cent., theorists in various scientific disciplines began to believe that the type of linear analysis used in classical applied mathematics presumes an orderly periodicity that rarely occurs in nature; in the quest to discover regularities, disorder had been ignored. Thus, chaos theorists have set about constructing deterministic, nonlinear dynamic models that elucidate irregular, unpredictable behavior (see nonlinear dynamics). Some of the early investigators of chaos were the American physicist Mitchell Feigenbaum; the Polish-born mathematician and inventor of fractals (see fractal geometry) Benoit Mandelbrot; the American mathematician James Yorke, who popularized the term "chaos" ; and the American meteorologist Edward Lorenz.

See J. Gleick, Chaos: Making a New Science (1987); I. Stewart, Does God Play Dice?: The Mathematics of Chaos (1989); A. A. Tsonis, Chaos: From Theory to Applications (1992); D. N. Chorafas, Chaos Theory in the Financial Markets (1994).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Chaos Theory: Selected full-text books and articles

Chaos Theory in Psychology and the Life Sciences By Robin Robertson; Allan Combs Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1995
Chaos Theory Tamed By Garnett P. Williams Taylor & Francis, 1997
Crisis Theory By David Z. Rich Praeger, 1997
Chaos Theory and the Social Control Thesis: A Post-Foucauldian Analysis of Mental Illness and Involuntary Civil Confinement By Arrigo, Bruce A.; Williams, Christopher R Social Justice, Vol. 26, No. 1, Spring 1999
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The New Sciences of Administration: Chaos and Quantum Theory By Overman, E. Sam Public Administration Review, Vol. 56, No. 5, September-October 1996
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Order and Disorder By David Z. Rich Praeger, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Chaos Theory: Comments and Critique"
The Myth of Global Chaos By Yahya Sadowski Brookings Institution Press, 1998
Divine Action and Modern Science By Nicholas Saunders Cambridge University Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Seven "Chaos Theory and Divine Action"
Putting a New Spin on Groups: The Science of Chaos By Bud A. McClure Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005 (2nd edition)
Dynamic Utopia: Establishing Intentional Communities as a New Social Movement By Robert C. Schehr Bergin & Garvey, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Chaos Theory, Metaphor, and Social Movements"
Chaos Theory versus Heisenberg's Uncertainty: Risk, Uncertainty and Economic Theory By Khalil, Elias American Economist, Vol. 41, No. 2, Fall 1997
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Chaos Theory and Institutional Economics: Metaphor or Model? By Staveren, Irene van Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. 33, No. 1, March 1999
Dictionary of Critical Social Sciences By T. R.Young Westview Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of chaos theory begins on p. 42
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