Lorenz Attractor

The first ever attractor of its kind was discovered by Edward Norton Lorenz in 1963 during research about weather behaviour and its predictability1. For a historical introduction to this attractor and chaos theory in general, I can recommend Chaos by James Gleick2. A well researched article by Quanta Magazine gives more insight to the daily work of Lorenz and his colleagues Ellen Fetter and Margaret Hamilton3.


Differential system:

\[\dot{x} = \alpha\, (y - x)\] \[\dot{y} = x\, (\beta - z) - y\] \[\dot{z} = x\, y - \gamma\, z\]


\[\alpha = 10\] \[\beta = 28\] \[\gamma = 8/3\]



Some Nostalgia

With just a few lines of code you can plot the attractor on BASIC-able devices. Here, I have tried it on a TI Voyage 200, a model from 2002 with just 188kB RAM and a 128p display:

Lorenz Attractor on Voyage 200

The program is in 68k TI-Basic4, which is a modified version by Texas Instruments and it looks like this:

 .1 → x
 .1 → y
 .1 → z
 10 → a
 28 → b
 8/3 → c
 For i,0,1000
  a*(y-x) → dx
  x*(b-z)-y → dy
  x*y-c*z → dz
  x+dx/100 → x
  y+dy/100 → y
  z+dz/100 → z
  PtOn x,z

If you try this on the same model, the window settings were:

xmin = -82
xmax = 82
xscl = 1
ymin = -10
ymax = 60
yscl = 1

  1. E.N. Lorenz, 1963. "Deterministic nonperiodic flow". J. Atmos. Sci. 20(2). doi:10.1175/1520-0469(1963)020<0130:DNF>2.0.CO;2

  2. "Chaos: Making a New Science" by James Gleick (1988) on Goodreads

  3. "The Hidden Heroines of Chaos" published in 2019 by Quanta Magazine

  4. A great resource on the language is this forum/wiki