A deterministic system is a system in which the later states of the system follow from, or are determined by, the earlier ones. Such a system contrasts with a stochastic or random system in which future states are not determined from previous ones. An example of a stochastic system would be the sequence of heads or tails of an unbiased coin, or radioactive decay.
If a system is deterministic, this doesn't necessarily imply that later states of the system are predictable from a knowledge of the earlier ones. In this way, chaos is similar to a random system. For example, chaos has been termed "deterministic chaos" since, although it is determined by simple rules, its property of sensitive dependence on initial conditions makes a chaotic system, in practice, largely unpredictable.
Related categories CHAOS, COMPLEXITY, AND DYNAMICAL SYSTEMS
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