Philippe Binder, left, and Robert Pipes

Philippe M. Binder, a University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo physics professor, and Robert M. Pipes, a UH Hilo graduate with bachelor’s degrees in physics and astronomy, have published “How chaos forgets and remembers” in the June 19 issue of Nature.

Their work examined a recent study that has added a layer of subtlety to a central tenet of chaos theory, which holds that deterministic models which produce the same output from a given starting condition or initial state, can display behavior that seems random.

It is widely believed that chaotic systems produce information as they evolve in time. Yet, a recent paper by James Crutchfield&#8217s research group at the University of California at Davis found that some of the information measured in the present came from the past while the rest was newly created. Some of the created information carries into the future (is remembered) while the rest does not (is forgotten).

In addition to providing a historical context and illustrated example of these features, Binder and Pipes examined how the new findings can be used to gain a better understanding of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This physical law, not well understood at the fundamental level, defines the behavior in time of isolated systems ranging from gases mixed in a container in the entire Universe.

Binder described the joint article as a milestone and a good example of the fruitful collaborations that frequently develop among faculty and students within his department.

“Robert was an outstanding student here, and I am very happy that he will be recognized for this work,” Binder said.

—By Alyson Kakugawa-Leong