Q:

# What is the butterfly effect theory?

A:

The butterfly effect theory, a subset of the chaos theory, states that a small change at one place in a complex system can have catastrophic effects in another place. This is based on the idea of recurrence, which states the two main ingredients for chaotic motion are the approximate return of a system to its initial conditions and the dependency of the system on its initial conditions.

## Keep Learning

The behavior known as the butterfly effect can be seen in simple systems such as a ball placed on the crest of a hill with many different paths. Depending on slight differences in the initial conditions present when the ball is released, the ball may roll into any one of the paths.

Recurrence is the reason that complex systems, such as the weather, are difficult to predict due to the impossibility to measure the initial conditions of any storm accurately. It is due to this recognition of chaos that weather forecasters run multiple simulations with slightly different initial conditions and feature these scenarios as a consensus forecast.

The butterfly effect is also a common theme in fiction. This theme typically involves presenting multiple what-if scenarios when one story line diverges into two different outcomes because of a change in a minor event.

Sources:

## Related Questions

• A: In a scientific experiment, a confounding variable is a secondary, changing condition that muddies the experimenter's hypothesized inference between cause ... Full Answer >
Filed Under:
• A: Variance analysis accounts for discrepancies between planned events and what actually takes place. It is generally performed at the end of each fiscal mont... Full Answer >
Filed Under:
• A: A probabilistic system is one where events and occurrences cannot be predicted with precise accuracy. It is contrasted by a deterministic system in which a... Full Answer >
Filed Under:
• A: Chebyshev's theorem, or inequality, states that for any given data sample, the proportion of observations is at least (1-(1/k2)), where k equals the "withi... Full Answer >
Filed Under:
PEOPLE SEARCH FOR