Nonlinear Physics—Modeling Chaos & Complexity


This is a course on computational science methods. The goal is for you to learn how to build powerful computing tools that help you do science.

The course explores the origins of intrinsic unpredictability (deterministic chaos) and the emergence of structure (self-organization) in natural complex systems. This will be developed using dynamical systems theory and focus on analyzing periodic and chaotic behaviors and bifurcations between them. In addition to this physics track, the parallel theme is constructing exploration tools for nonlinear processes. That is, in addition to developing the mathematics of qualitative dynamics, this is also a practical class. Students will design and build interactive tools for simulating and visualizing complex systems using Python. We will also make a field trip to the KeckCAVES sensory immersive visualization lab (


1. Qualitative Dynamics

2. Bifurcations

3. Visualizing & Quantifying Unpredictability

4. Projects