Definitions for butterfly effect

This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word butterfly effect

Princeton's WordNet

  1. butterfly effect(noun)

    the phenomenon whereby a small change at one place in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere, e.g., a butterfly flapping its wings in Rio de Janeiro might change the weather in Chicago


  1. butterfly effect(Noun)

    The technical notion of sensitive dependence on initial conditions in chaos theory.


  1. Butterfly effect

    In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions, where a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane's formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before. Although the butterfly effect may appear to be an esoteric and unlikely behavior, it is exhibited by very simple systems: for example, a ball placed at the crest of a hill may roll into any of several valleys depending on, among other things, slight differences in initial position. The butterfly effect is a common trope in fiction when presenting scenarios involving time travel and with hypotheses where one storyline diverges at the moment of a seemingly minor event resulting in two significantly different outcomes.

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