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Gary Witt


Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions


One stanza in the poetry of mathematics
Speaks of butterflies and building clouds,
Of reasoning toward a chasm, of quantifying chaos:

For, as a system becomes increasingly complex,
Small variations in data inputs over time will yield
Huge fluctuations in results, so that ultimately

A butterfly beats its wings in China and
Causes a storm to arise in the Atlantic
(Of which the butterfly is blissfully unaware) .

The poetry of mathematics does not speak
Of butterfly conscience, sympathy, or dread;
It does not deal with the romance of clouds.

But if our thoughts have wings what winds have they stirred?
What storms have our uttered words precipitated?

Submitted: Sunday, August 24, 2008
Edited: Friday, May 06, 2011

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Comments about this poem (Sensitive Dependence on Initial Conditions by Gary Witt )

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  • metamorphhh (aka jim crawford) (6/20/2009 5:40:00 PM)

    Well done, Gary. Causality is an interesting thing, isn't it, though a bit deceptive on second glance. Existence rolling forward like a wave, transitional states flowing outward from 'initial conditions', each moment a whole new universe of relational geography. Enjoyed this one a lot. (Report) Reply

  • Danny Reynolds (8/24/2008 1:30:00 AM)

    Love it Gary. I was thinking about phantom traffic jams, caused by one person hitting the brakes too hard, and they all come to a standstill 50 miles back, so I won't think about it for too long.
    Danny ; ¬) (Report) Reply

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