Researchers find a way to predict 'dragon kings' in small circuits

October 30, 2013 by Bob Yirka report
Researchers find a way to predict 'dragon kings' in small circuits
Appearance of dragon-kings. Bubble event-size probability density function (PDF) for c = 4.4. The dashed line is a fit to a power law. Credit: arXiv:1301.0244 [nlin.CD]

( —A research team with members from Switzerland, the U.S. and Brazil has discovered a way to predict and circumvent "dragon kings" that appear in a synchronized master-slave circuit system that occasionally become unsynchronized. They have uploaded a paper they've written describing their system and results to the preprint server arXiv—later to be published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Dragon kings (the term came about as a means to describe wealth distribution in medieval times) are large unexpected events that occur in complex systems. Earthquakes, stock-market crashes and even the abnormal population growth of Paris are some common examples. For obvious reasons, scientists and others have been studying such events to try to figure out if they can be predicted, and if so, if some of them at least, can be prevented.

In this latest effort, the researchers weren't studying dragon kings, they were simply trying to better understand a circuit anomaly—a master/slave circuit connected together in a way that was supposed to keep the two synchronized with one another. The problem was, sometimes the two would occasionally go completely out of whack. In studying the circuit they discovered that it was very small occasional misses in the synchronizing process that led to bigger and bigger misses until the became completely unsynchronized. Further study showed that making a minor adjustment to the system just before it went out of whack prevented the big event from occurring. Later analysis of the properties of the big event showed that it followed the definition of a dragon king. This has led the researchers to suggest that if such variables as were found in the circuit system could be identified in other systems, it seems reasonable to conclude that large random fluctuations might be predicted and in some cases prevented, in them as well.

That's a pretty big jump the researchers acknowledge—other systems are not only far more complex but have some variables beyond human control, such as those that lead to earthquakes or the amount of money investors have available to spend. But, because they were able to predict a dragon king in a circuit, it shows it can be done, at least in one system. That alone is enough to offer hope that similar analysis of other systems might lead to the same ability in some others.

Explore further: Video: Dragon grappled and berthed at Space Station

More information: Predictability and suppression of extreme events in complex systems, arXiv:1301.0244 [nlin.CD]

In many complex systems, large events are believed to follow power-law, scale-free probability distributions, so that the extreme, catastrophic events are unpredictable. Here, we study coupled chaotic oscillators that display extreme events. The mechanism responsible for the rare, largest events makes them distinct and their distribution deviates from a power-law. Based on this mechanism identification, we show that it is possible to forecast in real time an impending extreme event. Once forecasted, we also show that extreme events can be suppressed by applying tiny perturbations to the system.

Related Stories

Video: Dragon grappled and berthed at Space Station

March 4, 2013

SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft has arrived at the International Space Station. After overcoming a problem with its thrusters after reaching orbit on on Friday, today, Dragon successfully approached the Station, where it was captured ...

Recommended for you

Feeling the force between sand grains

August 24, 2016

For the first time, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers have measured how forces move through 3D granular materials, determining how this important class of materials might pack and behave in processes ...

Spherical tokamak as model for next steps in fusion energy

August 24, 2016

Among the top puzzles in the development of fusion energy is the best shape for the magnetic facility—or "bottle"—that will provide the next steps in the development of fusion reactors. Leading candidates include spherical ...

Funneling fundamental particles

August 24, 2016

Neutrinos are tricky. Although trillions of these harmless, neutral particles pass through us every second, they interact so rarely with matter that, to study them, scientists send a beam of neutrinos to giant detectors. ...

Engineers discover a high-speed nano-avalanche

August 24, 2016

Charles McLaren, a doctoral student in materials science and engineering at Lehigh University, arrived last fall for his semester of research at the University of Marburg in Germany with his language skills significantly ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.