Introduction to Dynamical Systems and Chaos

Introduction to Dynamical Systems and Chaos

Introduction to Dynamical Systems and Chaos (Summer, 2016)

About the Course:

In this course you’ll gain an introduction to the modern study of dynamical systems, the interdisciplinary field of applied mathematics that studies systems that change over time.

Topics to be covered include: phase space, bifurcations, chaos, the butterfly effect, strange attractors, and pattern formation. The course will focus on some of the realizations from the study of dynamical systems that are of particular relevance to complex systems:

  1. Dynamical systems undergo bifurcations, where a small change in a system parameter such as the temperature or the harvest rate in a fishery leads to a large and qualitative change in the system’s
  2. Deterministic dynamical systems can behave randomly. This property, known as sensitive dependence or the butterfly effect, places strong limits on our ability to predict some phenomena.
  3. Disordered behavior can be stable. Non-periodic systems with the butterfly effect can have stable average properties. So the average or statistical properties of a system can be predictable, even if its details are not.
  4. Complex behavior can arise from simple rules. Simple dynamical systems do not necessarily lead to simple results. In particular, we will see that simple rules can produce patterns and structures of surprising complexity.

About the Instructor:

content_headshotDavid Feldman is Professor of Physics and Mathematics at College of the Atlantic. From 2004-2009 he was a faculty member in the Santa Fe Institute’s Complex Systems Summer School in Beijing, China. He served as the school’s co-director from 2006-2009. Dave is the author of Chaos and Fractals: An Elementary Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2012), a textbook on chaos and fractals for students with a background in high school algebra. Dave was a U.S. Fulbright Lecturer in Rwanda in 2011-12.

Course dates:

5 Jul 2016 9am PDT to
20 Sep 2016 3pm PDT


A familiarity with basic high school algebra. There will be optional lessons for those with stronger math backgrounds.


  • Introduction I: Iterated Functions
  • Introduction II: Differential Equations
  • Chaos and the Butterfly Effect
  • Bifurcations: Part I (Differential Equations)
  • Bifurcations: Part II (Logistic Map)
  • Universality
  • Phase Space
  • Strange Attractors
  • Pattern Formation
  • Summary and Conclusions

Source: Complexity Explorer

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Introduction to Dynamical Systems and Chaos was originally published on Chris Aldrich | Boffo Socko

Online Lectures in Information Theory

There aren’t a lot of available online lectures on the subject of information theory, but here are the ones I’m currently aware of:



Fortunately, most are pretty reasonable, though vary in their coverage of topics. The introductory lectures don’t require as much mathematics and can probably be understood by those at the high school level with just a small amount of basic probability theory and an understanding of the logarithm.

The top three in the advanced section (they generally presume a prior undergraduate level class in probability theory and some amount of mathematical sophistication) are from professors who’ve written some of the most commonly used college textbooks on the subject. If I recall a first edition of the Yeung text was available via download through his course interface. MacKay’s text is available for free download from his site as well.

Feel free to post other video lectures or resources you may be aware of in the comments below.

Editor’s Update: With sadness, I’ll note that David MacKay died just days after this was originally posted.

    Syndicated to:

Online Lectures in Information Theory was originally published on Chris Aldrich | Boffo Socko