- catastrophe theory
Math.a theory, based on topology, for studying discontinuous processes and the mathematical models that describe them.[1970-75]
* * *Branch of mathematics (considered a branch of geometry) that explores how gradual changes to a system produce sudden, drastic results (though usually not as dire as the name suggests).A simple example is how a plastic coffee stirrer subjected to gradually increasing pressure from both ends will suddenly buckle in one direction or another. Other "catastrophes" include optical phenomena such as reflection or refraction of light through moving water. More speculatively, ideas from catastrophe theory have been applied by social scientists to such situations as the sudden eruption of mob violence.
* * *in mathematics, a set of methods used to study and classify the ways in which a system can undergo sudden large changes in behaviour as one or more of the variables that control it are changed continuously. Catastrophe theory is generally considered a branch of geometry because the variables and resultant behaviours are usefully depicted as curves or surfaces, and the formal development of the theory is credited chiefly to the French topologist René Thom (Thom, René Frédéric).A simple example of the behaviour studied by catastrophe theory is the change in shape of an arched (arch) bridge as the load on it is gradually increased. The bridge deforms in a relatively uniform manner until the load reaches a critical value, at which point the shape of the bridge changes suddenly—it collapses. While the term catastrophe suggests just such a dramatic event, many of the discontinuous changes of state so labeled are not. The reflection or refraction of light by or through moving water is fruitfully studied by the methods of catastrophe theory, as are numerous other optical phenomena. More speculatively, the ideas of catastrophe theory have been applied by social scientists to a variety of situations, such as the sudden eruption of mob violence.
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Catastrophe theory — This article refers to the study of dynamical systems. For other meanings, see catastrophe. 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… … Wikipedia
catastrophe theory — noun : mathematical theory and conjecture concerned with the use of topology to explain events (as an earthquake or a stock market crash) characterized by major abrupt changes * * * caˈtastrophe theory 7 [catastrophe theory] noun uncountable ( … Useful english dictionary
catastrophe theory — noun Date: 1971 mathematical theory and conjecture that uses topology to explain events (as an earthquake or a stock market crash) characterized by major abrupt changes … New Collegiate Dictionary
catastrophe theory — noun The branch of mathematics dealing with dynamical systems which can undergo abrupt irreversible qualitative changes due to a tiny change in parameters … Wiktionary
catastrophe theory — noun a branch of mathematics concerned with systems displaying abrupt discontinuous change … English new terms dictionary
Toba catastrophe theory — According to the Toba catastrophe theory, 70,000 to 75,000 years ago a supervolcanic event at Lake Toba, on Sumatra, reduced the world s human population to 10,000 or even a mere 1,000 breeding pairs, creating a bottleneck in human evolution. The … Wikipedia
Catastrophe modeling — This article refers to the use of computers to estimate losses caused by disasters. For other meanings of the word catastrophe, including catastrophe theory in mathematics, see catastrophe (disambiguation). Catastrophe modeling (also known as cat … Wikipedia
Catastrophe — A catastrophe is a disaster, a horrible event.It may also refer to:*Catastrophe (drama), the climax and resolution of a plot in ancient Greek drama and poems * Catastrophe (play), a 1982 short play by Samuel Beckett *Catastrophe modeling, in… … Wikipedia
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catastrophe — catastrophic /kat euh strof ik/, catastrophical, catastrophal, adj. catastrophically, adv. /keuh tas treuh fee/, n. 1. a sudden and widespread disaster: the catastrophe of war. 2. any misfortune, mishap, or failure; fiasco: The play was so poor… … Universalium