Transient Chaos

In chaos theory, transient chaos is a characteristic behavior in nonlinear dynamics where trajectories in a certain region of phase space behave chaotically for a period of time, before escaping to an external attractor. In some situations, this transient chaotic behavior can be observed in systems that eventually stabilize to a periodic or quasi-periodic motion.[2]

In certain physical systems, like electronic circuits or lasers, transient chaos can be observed before the system settles into a stable state, thus possibility of transient chaos must often be taken into an account in engineering, especially in systems that are meant to operate near the boundary of stability. In neural networks both artificial and biological, transient chaos can play a role in the complex dynamics observed, bridging in many ways Riemannian geometry (in context of information geometry) and MFT, (see neural mean field theory).


Transient chaos can be visualized as trajectories wandering in a chaotic "sea" surrounded by stable islands. These trajectories will eventually leave the chaotic region and settle onto one of these stable islands. The time it takes for a trajectory to escape the chaotic region is called the escape time.

$$\tau_e = \lim_{t \to \infty} \frac{1}{t} \int_0^t \chi(t') dt'$$

Where $\chi(t')$ is the characteristic function that is 1 when the trajectory is in the chaotic region at time $t'$ and 0 otherwise.

Characteristic Features

Some key features of transient chaos include:

  • Fractal Boundaries: The boundary between the chaotic region and the stable islands often has a fractal structure. This means that no matter how much we zoom in on the boundary, we will always find intricate patterns.
  • Sensitive Dependence: Trajectories that start very close to each other in the chaotic region can have vastly different escape times. This is a hallmark of chaos, where small differences in initial conditions can lead to vastly different outcomes.
  • Unpredictability: Due to the sensitive dependence on initial conditions, it is generally impossible to predict the exact escape time of a trajectory, even if we know its initial position very precisely.


Based on the content extracted from the provided PDF related to "control", here's a section on control:

The concept of control in nonlinear dynamics is pivotal in understanding and managing the behavior of systems. The partial control method is a recently developed control strategy aimed at preventing escapes in chaotic systems. This method does not necessitate full control over all variables. Instead, control is applied discretely at intervals $\Delta t$. In the physical continuous-time model, it is assumed that the control is applied almost instantaneously, meaning the time taken to perturb the trajectory is significantly shorter than the typical time variation of the dynamics.[1]

One of the intriguing aspects of this control method is its application in specific regions of phase space or on certain variables of the system. This selective application allows for more flexibility and can be particularly useful in practical scenarios. For instance, in the context of the Duffing oscillator, the control is applied in a way that chaos is sustained by introducing small perturbations at the maxima of a specific variable, such as the z variable.

Another strategy focuses on time rather than variables. Here, the emphasis is on the trajectory's passage through the control region, where control corrections are applied. This approach offers a different perspective on managing the system's behavior over time.

Future research avenues include optimizing the control method for various situations and applying the partial control method to other non-autonomous systems. While it has been applied to the Duffing oscillator, its efficacy in other paradigmatic non-autonomous systems remains an area of interest.

See also


Topics in Nonlinear Dynamics, Chaos, and Ergodic Theory

1. CapeΓ‘ns R., Sabuco J., SanjuΓ‘n M.A.F., Yorke J.A., (2017), Partially controlling transient chaos in the Lorenz quations. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 375: 20160211.
2. Poole B., Lahiri S., Raghu M., Sohl-Dickstein J., Ganguli S., (2016), Exponential expressivity in deep neural networks through transient chaos,
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