The Lorenz attractor is a simplified model of convection of a gas within a confined space. This very simple model results in some very interesting motion, an example of deterministic chaos. A chaotic system is very sensitive to initial conditions and the system rapidly diverges.
The system is described by three coupled non-linear differential equations:
dx / dt = a (y - x) dy / dt = x (b - z) - y dz / dt = xy - cz
- a is the *Prandtl number* representing ratio of fluid viscosity to thermal conductivity
- b is the *Rayleigh number* representing the difference in temperature between the top and bottom of the box
- c is the ratio of the width to height of the box.
Commonly used constants are a = 10, b = 28 and c = 8/3.