Institute for Mathematical Innovation

Chaos and the Art of Visualising Complexity


IMI Public Lecture

Speaker: Professor Michael Field, Rice University, USA and Imperial College, London

When: Friday 14 October 2016 at 3.15 pm - 4.15 pm (Tea and coffee from 2.45 pm)

Venue: Wolfson Lecture Theatre (Building 4W, Room 1.7)

Audience: FREE event, open to all. Get your free ticket.


Chaos and the art of visualising complexityChaos is closely identified in popular culture with the butterfly effect - for example, as seen in the movie “The Butterfly Effect” and on a brand of bottled water which has this line prominently displayed on the label:

According to Chaos Theory, the tiny flutter of a butterfly's wing can cause a cyclone on the other side of the world”.

This talk will address the question of what chaos is (and is not) and how one can visualise and describe the general mathematics of chaos and complex dynamics. It will also include some striking images of chaos and numerical demonstrations.

As the talk is intended for a general audience, rather than using explicit mathematics, Michael will show relations with physics and the natural world as well as address the question of the impact that butterflies may or may not have on causing exceptional weather.


Professor Michael Field

Professor Michael FieldProfessor Michael Field is a mathematician with research interests in dynamics, networks, and symmetry. He is the author of 10 books and monographs, many research papers and is an inaugural Fellow of the American Mathematical Society. He is a research professor at Rice University and recently completed a two-year Marie Curie International Fellowship at Imperial College, where he continues with his research on networks focusing on problems related to power grids and smart grids.

Before joining Imperial College in 2014, he worked at Warwick University, after getting his PhD there in 1970. He has also previously held posts at the University of Sydney (1976—1992), and the University of Houston (1992—2012).

Apart from his mathematical research, he has written a popular book which includes images of symmetric chaos (Symmetry in Chaos, coauthored with Martin Golubitsky). His graphic artwork has been exhibited internationally in Europe, the Americas, and Asia.

Pursuing his long-term interest in educational outreach and general mathematics education, Michael has led innovative seminars on geometry and statistics for teachers in Houston, based on a model pioneered by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute.


This free event is open to everyone. Get your free ticket now


Please contact the IMI Co-ordinator Dr Catrin Yeomans at for further information.