Love Affairs and Differential Equations

In 1988, Steven Strogatz of Harvard University looked at a pair of star-crossed lovers to illustrate a math concept, "coupled ordinary differential equations." That sounds complicated, but the way he explained it with an example, even I can understand.

Romeo is in love with Juliet, but in our version of this story, Romeo is a fickle lover. The more Juliet loves him, the more he begins to dislike her. But when she loses interest, his feelings for her warm up. She, on the other hand, tends to echo him: her love grows when he loves her, and turns to hate when he hates her.

Then there's a math formula, but you can see where this is going, as if it were a movie.  

The sad outcome of their affair is, of course, a never ending cycle of love and hate; their governing equations are those of a simple harmonic oscillator. At least they manage to achieve simultaneous love one-quarter of the time.

Does that remind you of anyone you know? The original paper is here. The equation can be found in various forms in math departments all across academia. -via Cliff Pickover

Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"Love Affairs and Differential Equations"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More