A state that a system settles into after a certain amount of time. For example, if you drop a marble into a bowl, it will roll around at first, but eventually settle on the bottom of the bowl. A limit cycle is a type of attractor where the system never settles down, but eventually ends up in a state that it has been in before, and hence continues on in an infinite loop. An example of this would be a planet in a perfectly stable orbit that keeps on tracing out the same path forever. A strange attractor is when a system never ends up in the same state twice, but eventually the set of possible states that the system can be in is confined to a limited area of phase space. The classic example of this is the Lorenz Attractor.

At*tract"or (?), n.

One who, or that which, attracts.

Sir T. Browne

 

© Webster 1913.

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