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butterfly effect Line breaks: butter|fly ef¦fect

Definition of butterfly effect in English:


(With reference to chaos theory) the phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere.
Example sentences
  • Wakefield's paper appears to be a dramatic example of the butterfly effect celebrated in chaos theory, in which the flutter of tiny wings on one continent is amplified around the planet to produce a tidal wave on some distant shore.
  • In all cases, the butterfly effect curved off the scale.
  • Generated from model results, the top of Fig.4 shows the manifestation of the butterfly effect; the shape of the diffusion front curves as flow proceeds downstream.


1980s: from the notion in chaos theory that a butterfly fluttering in Rio de Janeiro could change the weather in Chicago.

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