MA303      Half Unit
Chaos in Dynamical Systems

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Graham Brightwell


This course is available on the BSc in Accounting and Finance, BSc in Business Mathematics and Statistics, BSc in Mathematics and Economics, BSc in Mathematics with Economics and BSc in Statistics with Finance. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit. This course is available with permission to General Course students.


Mathematical Methods (MA100) is a pre-requisite. Background in rigorous mathematical methods, such as provided in Introduction to Abstract Mathematics (MA103), is desirable. In particular, some familiarity with proving theorems would be useful.

Course content

Given a function f:X->X, what is the (iterative) behaviour of fn (x)=f(f(...(f(x)) )) (f applied n times). What do 'orbits' of f look like - an orbit has the form x, f(x), f(f(x)).,,, Particular emphasis is given to long-term evolution and stability analysis of such systems f:X->X. We explore connections with so-called fractal sets, which are roughly sets that look the same at any degree of magnification, and may have a dimension which is not an integer. We also discuss chaotic maps f, where fn (x) cannot be determined if there is any small uncertainty about x. Topics covered: Iteration of discrete maps. Orbit analysis. Contraction mapping theorem. Quadratic maps. Bifurcations. Definition of chaos. Sarkovskii's theorem. Fractal sets.


21 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 1 hour of lectures in the ST.


Formative coursework

Written answers to set problems will be expected on a weekly basis.

Indicative reading

Full lecture notes will be provided. The following may prove useful, R Devaney, A First Course in Chaotic Dynamical Systems; R Devaney, An Introduction to Chaotic Dynamical Systems; E Scheinerman, Invitation to Dynamical Systems. A fun and interesting read might be Glieck, J.,Chaos: Making a New Science.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Mathematics

Total students 2016/17: 10

Average class size 2016/17: 10

Capped 2016/17: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2014/15 - 2016/17 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 100%



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