A manifold independent approach to understanding transport in stochastic dynamical systems

Erik M. Bollt, Lora Billings, Ira B. Schwartz

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31 Scopus citations


We develop a new collection of tools aimed at studying stochastically perturbed dynamical systems. Specifically, in the setting of bi-stability, that is a two-attractor system, it has previously been numerically observed that a small noise volume is sufficient to destroy would be zero-noise case barriers in the phase space (pseudo-barriers), thus creating a pre-heteroclinic tangency chaos-like behavior. The stochastic dynamical system has a corresponding Frobenius-Perron operator with a stochastic kernel, which describes how densities of initial conditions move under the noisy map. Thus in studying the action of the Frobenius-Perron operator, we learn about the transport of the map; we have employed a Galerkin-Ulam-like method to project the Frobenius-Perron operator onto a discrete basis set of characteristic functions to highlight this action localized in specified regions of the phase space. Graph theoretic methods allow us to re-order the resulting finite dimensional Markov operator approximation so as to highlight the regions of the original phase space which are particularly active pseudo-barriers of the stochastic dynamics. Our toolbox allows us to find: (1) regions of high activity of transport, (2) flux across pseudo-barriers, and also (3) expected time of escape from pseudo-basins. Some of these quantities are also possible via the manifold dependent stochastic Melnikov method, but Melnikov only applies to a very special class of models for which the unperturbed homoclinic orbit is available. Our methods are unique in that they can essentially be considered as a "black-box" of tools which can be applied to a wide range of stochastic dynamical systems in the absence of a priori knowledge of manifold structures. We use here a model of childhood diseases to showcase our methods. Our tools will allow us to make specific observations of: (1) loss of reducibility between basins with increasing noise, (2) identification in the phase space of active regions of stochastic transport, (3) stochastic flux which essentially completes the heteroclinic tangle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-177
Number of pages25
JournalPhysica D: Nonlinear Phenomena
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 15 Dec 2002


  • Epidemiology
  • Measles
  • Noise
  • Stochastic Frobenius-Perron operator
  • Stochastic bifurcation
  • Stochastic chaos
  • Stochastic dynamical systems
  • Stochastic heteroclinic tangle
  • Stochastic transport


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