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Catastrophe theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Catastrophe theory
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In mathematics, catastrophe theory is a branch of bifurcation theory in the study of dynamical systems; it is also a particular special case of more general singularity theory in geometry. Bifurcation theory studies and classies phenomena characterized by sudden shifts in behavior arising from small changes in circumstances, analysing how the qualitative nature of equation solutions depends on the parameters that appear in the equation. This may lead to sudden and dramatic changes, for example the unpredictable timing and magnitude of a landslide. Catastrophe theory, which originated with the work of the French mathematician Ren Thom in the 1960s, and became very popular due to the efforts of Christopher Zeeman in the 1970s, considers the special case where the long-run stable equilibrium can be identied with the minimum of a smooth, well-dened potential function (Lyapunov function). Small changes in certain parameters of a nonlinear system can cause equilibria to appear or disappear, or to change from attracting to repelling and vice versa, leading to large and sudden changes of the behaviour of the system. However, examined in a larger parameter space, catastrophe theory reveals that such bifurcation points tend to occur as part of well-dened qualitative geometrical structures.

1 Elementary catastrophes 2 Potential functions of one active variable 2.1 Fold catastrophe 2.2 Cusp catastrophe 2.3 Swallowtail catastrophe 2.4 Buttery catastrophe 3 Potential functions of two active variables 3.1 Hyperbolic umbilic catastrophe 3.2 Elliptic umbilic catastrophe 3.3 Parabolic umbilic catastrophe 4 Arnold's notation 5 See also 6 Bibliography 7 References 8 External links

Elementary catastrophes
Catastrophe theory analyses degenerate critical points of the potential function points where not just the rst derivative, but one or more higher derivatives of the potential function are also zero. These are called the germs of the catastrophe geometries. The degeneracy of these critical points can be unfolded by expanding the potential function as a Taylor series in small perturbations of the parameters. When the degenerate points are not merely accidental, but are structurally stable, the degenerate points exist as organising centres for particular geometric structures of lower degeneracy, with critical features

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Catastrophe theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

in the parameter space around them. If the potential function depends on two or fewer active variables, and four (resp. ve) or fewer active parameters, then there are only seven (resp. eleven) generic structures for these bifurcation geometries, with corresponding standard forms into which the Taylor series around the catastrophe germs can be transformed by diffeomorphism (a smooth transformation whose inverse is also smooth).[citation needed] These seven fundamental types are now presented, with the names that Thom gave them.

Potential functions of one active variable

Fold catastrophe

At negative values of a, the potential has two extrema - one stable, and one unstable. If the parameter a is slowly increased, the system can follow the stable minimum point. But at a = 0 the stable and unstable extrema meet, and annihilate. This is the bifurcation point. At a > 0 there is no longer a stable solution. If a physical system is followed through a fold bifurcation, one therefore nds that as a reaches 0, the stability of the a < 0 solution is suddenly lost, and the system will make a sudden transition to a new, very different behaviour. This bifurcation value of the parameter a is sometimes called the tipping point.

Stable and unstable pair of extrema disappear at a fold bifurcation

Cusp catastrophe

The cusp geometry is very common, when one explores what happens to a fold bifurcation if a second parameter, b, is added to the control space. Varying the parameters, one nds that there is now a curve (blue) of points in (a,b) space where stability is lost, where the stable solution will suddenly

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Catastrophe theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

jump to an alternate outcome.

But in a cusp geometry the bifurcation curve loops back on itself, giving a second branch where this alternate solution itself loses stability, and will make a jump back to the original solution set. By repeatedly Cusp shape in parameter space (a,b) near Pitchfork bifurcation at a = 0 on the increasing b and the catastrophe point, showing the locus surface b = 0 then decreasing of fold bifurcations separating the region it, one can with two stable solutions from the region therefore observe with one. hysteresis loops, as the system alternately follows one solution, jumps to the other, follows the other back, then jumps back to the rst. However, this is only possible in the region of parameter space a < 0. As a is increased, the hysteresis loops become smaller and smaller, until above a = 0 they disappear altogether (the cusp catastrophe), and there is only one stable solution. One can also consider what happens if one holds b constant and varies a. In the symmetrical case b = 0, one observes a pitchfork bifurcation as a is reduced, with one stable solution suddenly splitting into two stable solutions and one unstable solution as the physical system passes to a < 0 through the cusp point (0,0) (an example of spontaneous symmetry breaking). Away from the cusp point, there is no sudden change in a physical solution being followed: when passing through the curve of fold bifurcations, all that happens is an alternate second solution becomes available. A famous suggestion is that the cusp catastrophe can be used to model the behaviour of a stressed dog, which may respond by becoming cowed or becoming angry.[1] The suggestion is that at moderate stress (a > 0), the dog will exhibit a smooth transition of response from cowed to angry, depending on how it is provoked. But higher stress levels correspond to moving to the region (a < 0). Then, if the dog starts cowed, it will remain cowed as it is irritated more and more, until it reaches the 'fold' point, when it will suddenly, discontinuously snap through to angry mode. Once in 'angry' mode, it will remain angry, even if the direct irritation parameter is considerably reduced. Catastrophic failure of a complex system with parallel redundancy can be evaluated based on relationship between local and external stresses. The model of the structural fracture mechanics is similar to the cusp catastrophe behavior. The model predicts reserve ability of a complex system. Another application example is for the outer sphere electron transfer frequently encountered in chemical and biological systems (Xu, F. Application of catastrophe theory to the !G" to -!G

Diagram of cusp catastrophe, showing curves (brown, red) of x satisfying dV/dx = 0 for parameters (a,b), drawn for parameter b continuously varied, for several values of parameter a. Outside the cusp locus of bifurcations (blue), for each point (a,b) in parameter space there is only one extremising value of x. Inside the cusp, there are two different values of x giving local minima of V(x) for each (a,b), separated by a value of x giving a local maximum.

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relationship in electron transfer reactions. Zeitschrift fr Physikalische Chemie Neue Folge 166, 79-91 (1990)). Fold bifurcations and the cusp geometry are by far the most important practical consequences of catastrophe theory. They are patterns which reoccur again and again in physics, engineering and mathematical modelling. They are the only way we currently have of detecting black holes and the dark matter of the universe, via the phenomenon of gravitational lensing producing multiple images of distant quasars.[citation needed] The remaining simple catastrophe geometries are very specialised in comparison, and presented here only for curiosity value.

Swallowtail catastrophe

The control parameter space is three dimensional. The bifurcation set in parameter space is made up of three surfaces of fold bifurcations, which meet in two lines of cusp bifurcations, which in turn meet at a single swallowtail bifurcation point. As the parameters go through the surface of fold bifurcations, one minimum and one maximum of the potential function disappear. At the cusp bifurcations, two minima and one maximum are replaced by one Swallowtail catastrophe minimum; beyond them the fold bifurcations disappear. At the surface swallowtail point, two minima and two maxima all meet at a single value of x. For values of a>0, beyond the swallowtail, there is either one maximum-minimum pair, or none at all, depending on the values of b and c. Two of the surfaces of fold bifurcations, and the two lines of cusp bifurcations where they meet for a<0, therefore disappear at the swallowtail point, to be replaced with only a single surface of fold bifurcations remaining. Salvador Dal's last painting, The Swallow's Tail, was based on this catastrophe.

Buttery catastrophe

Depending on the parameter values, the potential function may have three, two, or one different local minima, separated by the loci of fold bifurcations. At the buttery point, the different 3-surfaces of fold bifurcations, the 2-surfaces of cusp bifurcations, and the lines of swallowtail bifurcations all meet up and disappear, leaving a single cusp structure remaining when a>0

Potential functions of two active variables

Umbilic catastrophes are examples of corank 2 catastrophes. They can be observed in optics in the focal surfaces created by light reecting off a surface in three dimensions and are intimately connected with the geometry of nearly spherical surfaces. Thom proposed that the Hyperbolic umbilic catastrophe modeled the breaking of a wave and the elliptical umbilic modeled the creation of hair like structures.

Hyperbolic umbilic catastrophe

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Catastrophe theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Elliptic umbilic catastrophe

Parabolic umbilic catastrophe

Arnold's notation
Vladimir Arnold gave the catastrophes the ADE classication, due to a deep connection with simple Lie groups. A0 - a non-singular point: A2 - the fold A3 - the cusp A4 - the swallowtail A5 - the buttery Ak - a representative of an innite sequence of one variable forms D4- - the elliptical umbilic D4+ - the hyperbolic umbilic D5 - the parabolic umbilic Dk - a representative of an innite sequence of further umbilic forms E6 - the symbolic umbilic E7 E8 There are objects in singularity theory which correspond to most of the other simple Lie groups. . .

A1 - a local extremum, either a stable minimum or unstable maximum

See also
Broken symmetry Tipping point Phase transition Domino effect Snowball effect Buttery effect Spontaneous symmetry breaking Chaos theory

Arnold, Vladimir Igorevich. Catastrophe Theory, 3rd ed. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1992. V. S. Afrajmovich, V. I. Arnold, et al., Bifurcation Theory And Catastrophe Theory, ISBN

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3540653791 Castrigiano, Domenico P. L. and Hayes, Sandra A. Catastrophe Theory, 2nd ed. Boulder: Westview, 2004. ISBN 0-8133-4126-4 Gilmore, Robert. Catastrophe Theory for Scientists and Engineers. New York: Dover, 1993. Petters, Arlie O., Levine, Harold and Wambsganss, Joachim. Singularity Theory and Gravitational Lensing. Boston: Birkhauser, 2001. ISBN 0-8176-3668-4 Postle, Denis. Catastrophe Theory Predict and avoid personal disasters. Fontana Paperbacks, 1980. ISBN 0-00-635559-5 Poston, Tim and Stewart, Ian. Catastrophe: Theory and Its Applications. New York: Dover, 1998. ISBN 0-486-69271-X. Sanns, Werner. Catastrophe Theory with Mathematica: A Geometric Approach. Germany: DAV, 2000. Saunders, Peter Timothy. An Introduction to Catastrophe Theory. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1980. Thom, Ren. Structural Stability and Morphogenesis: An Outline of a General Theory of Models. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1989. ISBN 0-201-09419-3. Thompson, J. Michael T. Instabilities and Catastrophes in Science and Engineering. New York: Wiley, 1982. Woodcock, Alexander Edward Richard and Davis, Monte. Catastrophe Theory. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1978. ISBN 0525078126. Zeeman, E.C. Catastrophe Theory-Selected Papers 19721977. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1977.

1. ^ E.C. Zeeman, Catastrophe Theory ( , Scientic American, April 1976; pp. 6570, 7583

External links
CompLexicon: Catastrophe Theory ( /catastrophe.html) Catastrophe teacher ( Retrieved from "" Categories: Bifurcation theory Singularity theory Systems theory This page was last modied on 29 February 2012 at 09:11. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. See Terms of use for details. Wikipedia is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-prot organization.

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