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Dynamics and Chaos


Admission requirements

Gewone Differentiaalvergelijkingen and Topologie.


In the first part, this course explains basic ideas of the field in low dimensional settings of iterated maps on the line and in the plane. In particular, we develop theory of topological dynamics, symbolic dynamics and hyperbolic dynamics. Important results and ideas in this context that are explained include "period three implies chaos", period doubling route to chaos and the Smale horseshoe map. The second part develops dynamical systems analysis for differential equations and compares techniques and results to the discrete setting with focus on the occurrence of chaotic dynamics.

The key strength of dynamical systems analysis is the departure from explicit formulas and solution recipes which are replaced by more abstract qualitative techniques from geometry and topology to discuss global properties of solutions. While this modern viewpoint originates in the work of Poincare, it was, in fact, the study of chaotic dynamical systems from the 1960s that lead to a breakthrough in science and an explosion of interest in the field of dynamical systems. Its basic techniques have by now been used in various related settings such partial differential differential equations (which lead to infinite-dimensional dynamical systems) and control theory.

This course will serve as an introduction for the more advanced course "Ergodic Theory and Fractals" and other courses in dynamical systems. The part on continuous dynamical systems complements the modern canon of topics displayed in other courses such as "Introduction to dynamical systems" which has a different focus.

Course objectives

The aim of this course is to introduce the student to basic techniques and results in the broad field of "Dynamical Systems" by developing the theory for two settings: discrete time dynamical systems (generated by maps) and continuous time dynamical systems (generated by differential equations).

Mode of instruction

Weekly lectures ( 2hrs) and bi-weekly question hours (2hrs)

Assessment method

The final grade consists of homework (20%), a written midterm (20%), and a written (retake) exam (60%).
To pass the course, the grade for the (retake) exam should be at least 5 and the unrounded weighted average of the three partial grades at least 5.5.
No minimum grade is required for the homework or midterm in order to take the exam or to pass the course.

  • The homework counts as a practical, it consists of 4 assignments. There is no retake.

  • The midterm counts as a constituent examination. There is no retake. The grade will be replaced by that of the (retake) exam in the case that the grade is higher.


The following books are good for references:

  • Chaotic Dynamics van Geoffrey Goodson, ISBN 9781316285572.

  • Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos van Steven H. Strogatz. ISBN-13: 978-0738204536

  • Ordinary Differential Equations and Dynamical Systems van Gerald Teschl. ISBN-13: 978-0821883280


for questions you can contact one of the two lecturers.