Lore says that Edward Lorenz found out that atmosphere fluidodynamics was very sensitive to initial conditions when he stopped a numerical simulation, dutifully copied the partial results, and after inputting them again he got a result vastly different from what it was supposed. (He then went to talk about the butterfly effect, but that's another story) Do you know if there is a first-hand recollection of this story?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Note that this question is answered on the Wikipedia page about chaos theory. This seems to indicate that perhaps more prior research should have been done before asking. It is also answered in this earlier answer to a different question. $\endgroup$
    – Danu
    Mar 26, 2016 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ I searched on Wikipedia, but only in the pages of Lorenz and history of numerical meteorology. At least for me, chaos theory (which was born later out of different problems) was not involved at all: I would never thought of this. $\endgroup$
    – mau
    Mar 26, 2016 at 19:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Ah, well in that case, forgive me for being presumptuous. The connection seemed clear to me, since I always heard the anecdote in the context of the start of chaos theory, but I guess that's just my personal bias! The fact remains, however, that searching for Lorenz on this site would've also yielded your answer, so I advise you to try searching the site as well, next time around. $\endgroup$
    – Danu
    Mar 26, 2016 at 19:12
  • $\begingroup$ no problem at all! My fault is that I noticed that in the page about Lorenz the anedocte was reported but with a relatively recent (paper) source, and chaos theory was not present among the related pages. (A technical question: would it be better if I delete the question, so that the statistics for the site do not show an unanswered question?) $\endgroup$
    – mau
    Mar 27, 2016 at 6:50
  • $\begingroup$ @mau -- Lorenz is widely perceived as being the father of chaos theory. While there were predecessors in Poincaré, Hadamard, Kolmogorov, and others, the concept didn't take off until Lorenz. $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2016 at 23:42


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.