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Date: Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642


Dr. Philippe Binder and Robert M. Pipes

Faculty-student paper published in top scientific journal

A short paper on nonlinear science, co-authored by a University of Hawaiʻi at Hilophysics professor and a recently graduated student has been published in the June 19 issue of Nature. With an estimated readership of nearly half a million, Nature is considered one of the world's top two scientific journals.

“How chaos forgets and remembers” was co-authored by Dr. Philippe M. Binder, and by Robert M. Pipes, who graduated last month with bachelor’s degrees in physics and astronomy from UH Hilo. The paper was written as part of a course project in the Phys/Math 380 course taught by Binder last semester.

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’s 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 examine 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 to 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 and division. 

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

Reference: P.-M. Binder and R. M. Pipes, “How chaos forgets and remembers.” Nature 510, 343-344 (2014).