Edward Norton Lorenz  

Edward Norton Lorenz


Born  May 23, 1917 West Hartford, Connecticut, United States 
Died  April 16, 2008 (aged 90) Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States 
Residence  United States 
Fields  Mathematics and Meteorology 
Institutions  Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
Alma mater  Dartmouth College (BA, 1938) Harvard University (Master's, 1940) Massachusetts Institute of Technology (SM, 1943; ScD, 1948) 
Doctoral advisor  James Murdoch Austin 
Doctoral students  Kevin E. Trenberth 
Known for  Chaos theory Lorenz attractor Butterfly effect 
Notable awards  Kyoto Prize (1991) 
Edward Norton Lorenz (May 23, 1917  April 16, 2008) was an American mathematician and meteorologist, and a pioneer of chaos theory.^{[1]} He discovered the strange attractor notion and coined the term butterfly effect.
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Lorenz was born in West Hartford, Connecticut.^{[2]} He studied mathematics at both Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. From 1942 until 1946, he served as a weather forecaster for the United States Army Air Corps. After his return from the war, he decided to study meteorology.^{[1]} Lorenz earned two degrees in the area from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he later was a professor for many years. He was a Professor Emeritus at MIT from 1987 until his death.^{[1]}
During the 1950s, Lorenz became skeptical of the appropriateness of the linear statistical models in meteorology, as most atmospheric phenomena involved in weather forecasting are nonlinear.^{[1]} His work on the topic culminated in the publication of his 1963 paper Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow in Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, and with it, the foundation of Chaos theory.^{[1]}^{[3]} His description of the Butterfly effect followed in 1969, ^{[1]}^{[4]}^{[5]} Kyoto Prize for basic sciences, in the field of earth and planetary sciences, in 1991,^{[6]} the Buys Ballot Award in 2004, and the Tomassoni Award in 2008.^{[citation needed]} In his later years, he lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was an avid outdoorsman, who enjoyed hiking, climbing, and crosscountry skiing. He kept up with these pursuits until very late in his life, and managed to continue most of his regular activities until only a few weeks before his death. According to his daughter, Cheryl Lorenz, Lorenz had "finished a paper a week ago with a colleague."^{[7]} On April 16, 2008, Lorenz died at his home in Cambridge at the age of 90, having suffered from cancer. ^{[8]}
Lorenz built a mathematical model of the way air moves around in the atmosphere. As Lorenz studied weather patterns he began to realize that they did not always change as predicted. Minute variations in the initial values of variables in his twelve variable computer weather model (c. 1960) would result in grossly divergent weather patterns.^{[1]} This sensitive dependence on initial conditions came to be known as the butterfly effect.^{[9]}
Lorenz went on to explore the underlying mathematics and published his conclusions in a seminal work titled Deterministic Nonperiodic Flow, in which he described a relatively simple system of equations that resulted in a very complicated dynamical object now known as the Lorenz attractor.^{[3]}
Lorenz published several books and articles. A selection:
