1st Place - Riddled Basins, Yuanzhao Zhang

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Scientists often use computer simulations to create theoretical models of agents that interact with each other — like neurons in the brain or the populations of multiple species. Each dot in this image represents a different initial condition that can lead to specific dynamics of the system.

In this case, there are two possible long-term dynamics; the dots are colored orange or blue according to which one the system converges to when starting from that initial condition. You can always find a blue dot arbitrarily close to an orange dot and vice versa; these are called “riddled basins.”

This is similar to a coin toss: whether you get heads or tails depends sensitively on the initial velocity and angular momentum of the coin, and the outcome cannot be predicted without knowing those initial conditions to infinite precision. 

Yuanzhao Zhang

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Tools & Techniques: Computer Simulations

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