A seemingly insignificant perturbation can have dramatic consequences.
A tiny butterfly that causes a harrowing storm by flapping its delicate wings seem like poetic imagery. Yet, this is the way of nature: a small change in initial conditions can have significant and unpredictable effects on a complex system over time. The mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorentz created this metaphor while working on weather simulations. He noticed that the solution to his atmospheric model was a strange attractor, where small differences in initial data inputs produced drastically different results. The butterfly effect has since been applied to various fields, from economics to chaos theory, and highlights the difficulty of making accurate predictions in complex systems.
Learn more about the Lorenz attractor.