Butterfly effect

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The term butterfly effect is a popular term that was coined in the 1970s. We will examine the definition of the expression butterfly effect, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

The butterfly effect is the idea that a minute, local change in a system can precipitate large effects in another part of the system. The proposition is a founding idea of chaos theory, a mathematical theory that has been applied to other sciences and even everyday life. Most people understand the butterfly effect as a random small event impacting the outcome of a situation, though the scientific understanding of the butterfly effect is that small differences must occur at the beginning of an event, to have a large impact. The phrase the butterfly effect was first used in a scientific paper presented by  Edward Lorenz in 1972: Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?


Indeed, chaos theory surmise “butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.” (The Latin American Herald Tribune)

Of course, if they’d kept him and he played like this, they might be looking at a decent return package in a return trade, but the baseball butterfly effect is a dangerous game to play. (The McCovey Chronicles)

A single spelling mistake can cause a butterfly effect worth millions — a lesson these companies and individuals learnt the hard way. (The Economic Times)

The resulting wave can be quite influential, creating a kind of “butterfly effect.” (The Tallahassee Democrat)