Lorenz Attractor

We started on the Lorenz Attractor today, hooray! Three autonomous differential equations, and so much interesting behavior. I got to show my student’s video today; who would have ever guessed that nearly 18,000 people would have viewed it a bit over a year later?

I’m so proud. I’m so proud. I’m so proud.

We started in with one of my favorite unusual ways to structure class today. I lay out some terms that they need to understand what they are doing next, and they are told to go look them up with Google and come up to the board and fill us in. I will expand on what they say, but they are expected to lead the lesson.

The afternoon class, when asked what the Lorenz attractor was a model of, answered that it was a model of chaos and the butterfly effect (true), but what I wanted and what they need to know is something about the physical system that it represents. I clarified but I didn’t fix it. I told them we’d come back to that on Tuesday.

The morning class nailed it. Afternoon … struggling. And a lot of afternoon students in office hours with homework not-very-close to completion.

It feels good to be getting into some math. Both with the Matlab assignment due today, and with the upcoming work on the Lorenz attractor. Wherein we attempt to understand the butterfly effect and chaos, and learn how to create graphs that show clearly what we are trying to demonstrate.