Student: Can you give us a definition?
René: It’s the loss of stability in a dynamic system.
Student: And can you give us an example?
René: Well, a river flowing along suddenly drops into a catastrophic waterfall.
Student: Catastrophic for the river or the swimmer?
René: Both. But the maths can also predict why stockmarkets jump around. That’s its use in the financial markets.
Student: Have you used it to buy stocks?
René: I’m more interested in applying it to history. Here, this calculation shows that the French Revolution was the precipitating factor for
Typical pattern of presenting an idea.
(1) Provide a definition.
(2) Give examples.
René Thom’s Catastrophe Theory got a lot of attention in the 1970s until it became difficult to apply it to scenarios involving more than five variables.