Friday, September 15, 2017, 3pm
Location: Planetary Hall Room 126

Miguel A. F. SanJuán

Universidad Rey Juan Carlos
Department of Physics

Nonlinear Dynamics, Chaos, and Complex Systems: A Historical Perspective


When we talk about dynamics, we do not only understand the motion of celestial bodies and solid mechanical systems, but any changes with respect to time of one or more variables. From that point of view, we can find dynamics everywhere, in any field of science. Thus, now we have a more general vision, including stock market movements and economic variables, concentration changes in chemical reactions, changes in physiological, biological and medical variables, action potentials of neurons, etc ... providing a more interdisciplinary perspective.

The various interactions between the constituent parts of a physical system and their feedback mechanisms, are a source of nonlinearity and complexity, which added to the sensitivity dependence to initial conditions which is a hallmark of chaotic behavior, constitutes a change of perspective in dynamical systems with important consequences for the understanding of science.

 I will give a historical perspective of Nonlinear Dynamics, Chaos Theory and Complex Systems, including some of the different sources that have contributed to the construction of the discipline as we know it today. Among them, the three-body problem in celestial mechanics, turbulence in fluid dynamics, irreversibility and fundamentals of statistical physics and the logistic map and population dynamics in biology. Many schools of mathematics and physics have played an essential role in the historical development of the subject, including the French, Russian, Japanese and American school. The knowledge of this historical perspective allows us to understand the breadth of the discipline itself and the multiple interdisciplinary applications to various fields of science.