Barbara Gentz (University of Bielefeld)

Noise in coupled dynamics — friend or foe?

How does our heart beat remain so regular for so long? How does an ensemble of metronomes on a platform spontaneously synchronise? This “odd kind of sympathy” was first reported in 1665 by Christiaan Huygens in a letter to Sir Robert Moray. 

Actually, synchronisation is ubiquitous in nature. It can be externally forced or spontaneous. Radio-controlled clocks, artificial cardiac pacemakers and circadian rhythms are examples of externally forced synchronisation. Besides Huygens’ pendulum clocks, our natural cardiac pacemaker and the swaying of the Millennium Bridge in London are examples of spontaneous synchronisation.

In this talk, simple mathematical models for synchronisation will be presented. It will be argued why random influences, so-called noise, should be taken into account. Quantifying its effect will then allow to decide whether the noise is actually friend or foe.