Physics Colloquium - Friday, Feb. 8th, 2008, 4:00 P.M.

E300 Math/Science Center; Refreshments at 3:30 P.M. in Room E200

Michael Schatz
Department of Physics
Georgia Tech

Topological characterization of spatiotemporal patterns

Numerous physical systems in nature and in technology exhibit patterns or structures that are complex in space and in time. Systematic characterization of such patterns remains an outstanding challenge. We will discuss a new method using computational homology, which can be applied generally to data sets from either laboratory experiments or numerical simulations. We discuss the application of computational homology to analyze the state of spiral defect chaos in Rayleigh-Benard convection. The analysis reveals asymmetries in flow fields that are not easily observable using convectional statistical measures. These results suggest computational homology may provide a new and general approach for connecting spatiotemporal observations of chaotic or turbulent patterns to theoretical models.