University of Tübingen, Germany

Otto E. Rossler, born on May 20, 1940, to Austrian father in Berlin. Humanistic high-school education (Greek-Latin style),

1966 Majored and state exam in medicine. Dissertation under the supervision of Erich Letterer (1895-1982) entitled Dauerimmunisierung von Albinomäusen mit Rinder-\gamma-Globulin [Long-term Immunization of Albino Mice with Bovine-\gamma-Globulin] and defended at the University of Tübingen.

1966 Postdoc on cybernetic analysis of behaviour with Horst Mittlesteadt , Max Planck Institute for behavioral Physiology, Seewiesen, Bavaria. Cooperation with Konrad Lorenz.

1969 Visiting Appointment Award, Center for Theoretical Biology, State Universitry of new York at Buffalo, New York State. Cooperation with Robert Rosen.

1969 Professor for Theoretical Biochemistry at the University of Tübingen.

1973 Habilitation ("Privat-Docent") for Theoretical Biochemistry, University of Tübingen, 1976 University Docent (tenured).

1977 Organized with Okan Gurel (IBM Cambridge Scientific Center) a conference in New York. Proceedings were published as Bifurcation Theory and Applications in Scientific Disciplines (ed. 0. Gurel, 0. E. Rössler); New York Academy of Science, 1978.

1981 Visiting Professor of Mathematics, Guelph University, Canada.

1983 Visiting Professor of Nonlinear Studies, Center for Nonlinear Studies of the University of California, Los Alamos, New Mexico (non-military).

1992 Visiting Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia.

1993 Visiting Professor of Theoretical Physics, Lyngby University, Denmark.

1994 Professor of Chemistry by decree.

1995 Visiting Professor of Complexity Research, Santa Fe Institute, New Mexico.

1995 Award of the "Systems Research Foundation", Canada.

Author of about 300 scientific papers on: Biogenesis, deductive biology, origin of language, differentiable automata, bacterial brain, chaotic attractors, dripping faucet, heart chaos (with Reimara Rossler), hyperchaos, nowhere-differentiable attractors (with Ichiro Tsuda), flare attractors, endophysics, micro relativity, Platonic computers, micro constructivism, recursive evolution, limitology, interface theory, artificial universes, the hypertext encyclopedia, Lampsacus hometown of all persons, blind-sight experiments in physics, world-change technology.

- Books

Encounter with Chaos, 1992

Endophysics: The world as an interface, World Scientific Pub Co, 1992.

Jonas World - The Thinking of a Child, 1994 (in German)

The Flaming Sword, 1996 (in German)

Descartes’ Traum (in German)

Chaos: The World of Nonperiodic Oscillations written in the early 1980s and published on May 20, 2020 for his 80th birthday]

- My life in chaos

Short autobiography by Otto Rössler (Rouen, September 2004)

In 1953, at age 13, I was influenced by Abbé Chaisnot in Granville. When I was 17, I got my radio amateur’s licence (DR9KF). My decision to study medicine was ethically motivated, as a substitute for becoming a monk, and rewarded by my discovering Bertalanffy and later Teilhard de Chardin. Erich Letterer, my Ph’D adviser in pathology, with whom I had rediscovered immunological tolerance, had little patience with my experimental skill (the thesis had only 24 pages).

An idea I had had at age 22 on chemical evolution opened doors when I mentioned it in letters to Carl Friedrich von Weizsächer and Konrad Lorenz who became my second mentor. Deductive biology (a predictive approach to behavior and the brain) formed the topics of discussions. From Otto Köhler, whom I never met, I learned about the infant’s smile (I made a type copy of his paper). Bathing a baby once had been part of the pediatric curriculum. The next great influence was and is Reimara Waible who underserved by made me her husband. She opened the door to America’s Center for Theoretical Biology. Bob Rosen gave me the manuscript of his Dynamical System Theory in Biology (Wiley, 1970) in 1969, an eye-opener and still very useful in its Poincaréan and Thomian spirit. So I became a member of the Rashevsky school, because Rosen loved his mentor so much. I met Bertalanffy (who invited us for Christmas) in Buffalo. R. W. Kaplan and U. Franck enabled my coming to Germany by getting stipends for Tübingen where I could habilitate in 1973 in Theoretical Biochemistry which suddenly gave me an identity and three years later a tenured docendship. The Center in Buffalo, unfortunately, dismantled because it allegedly had ``no tangible results’’.

Wolfgang Engelmann in Tübingen brought me in contact with Art Winfree who helped spawn the liquid digital computers. Michael and Debbie Conrad who were at Tübingen at the time helped publish this work. Fritz Horn in Rochester also became a friend and Okan Gurel, White Plains, and Hans Degn and Lars-Folke Olsen in Odense and Dick Noyes, Oregon. I remember meeting Britten Chance and Benno Hess, Evgeny Sel’kov and Anatoly Zhabotinsky. Okan and Desnet, his chemist wife, brought us to Kyoto in 1975 where we met Anatol Rapoport and Masaya Yamaguti, who had graduated from a Zen master rather than a state school to become the weightless personality to anyone he interacted with - a holy man in mathematics. In the same year, Reimara and I were received and ravishly served as friends by Gregory Bateson in Santa Cruz to discuss the theory of the simle. Bateson was ``not jealous’’ of his friend Konrad’s Nobel.

In the early 1970’s the first contacts with Steve Smale,Ilya Prigogine and Ralph Abraham were fostered. The year 1975 also brought Art Winfree’s unheard-of present about ten unpublished and published papers he had collected over the years on chaos - to encourage me in my search for a knotted oscillation. Later I learned that Stanislaw Ulam (whom I briefly met in 1983) had had a similar idea. Art was one of those giving person whom you can never pay back in a lifetime. My school friend Roland Wais and later my friend Peter Weibel, pupil of Gödel’s, and Mohamed El Nashie, René Thomas and George Lasker are in the same category of being permanent givers. So in Jack Hudson, the colleague who had the most good influences on our lives. The chaotic attractors of 1975 onwards owe their existence to Art Winfree’s having shared with me his obsession (as in Spielberg’s movie Close encounter of the third kind) with a three-dimensional puzzle.

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Otto and Jack in Tübingen in the 1980s

Bob Rosen had this bend, too and now in France I met the third victim. For being strange - they cannot help visualizing things. 1976 was a year full of rewards with meeting Ed Lorenz, Steve Smale again, Richard FitzHugh, John Rinzel, John Ross, Rutherford Aris, Peter Richter, Bruce Clark, Yoshiki Kuramoto, Martin Gutzwiller. In 1977, Paul Rapp donated me the word hyperchaos and the Directory of Tunes by Dennis Parsons. Christophe Zeeman came, the first genuine topologist I met before René Thom and Bob Gilmore. Frank Hoppensteadt visited, Hans Othmer, John Tyson, Len Pismen, Gottfried Mayer-Kress, Igor Gumowski, Gyorgyi Targonski, Agnes Babloyantz. In the same year I met David Ruelle, Edward Kerner and Christian Mira.

Okan’s 1977 conference of the New York Academy of Sciences, to which he invited me as a co-organizer was an incredible gift. Eberhard Hopf came, Benoît Mandelbrot of fracal fame, Bob May, the magicean, whom I secretely hold responsible for the chaos success, Jim Yorke, Bob Williams. The ``sound of chaos’’ and ``screw chaos’’ were greated with joy. It was Jimmy Carter time: everyone was wearing a pullover (sweater). Theo Parlidis and Peter Decker were also there. So was Rolf Landauer who invited us to his home.

The year 1978 brought with Hoppensteadt’s conference Jack Hale and snap-back repellor Franck Marotto and... who visited me later in Tübingen. Ei Teramoto’s conference in Kyoto in the same year brought the friendship with Kazuhisha Tomita and Ichivo Tsuda and Kuni Kaneko. Collin Sparrow’s visit also fell in 1978. Crispin Gardiner and Raimund Kapral also visited.

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Otto in the front of his analog computer (1979)

In 1979, I caught the hyperchaos fever in the (presumably false) assumption that the ``worst’’ or most beautiful complexity in four dimesions had been found. Gerald Baier and Sven Sable since extended it to arbitrarily high dimension - with still a single nonlinear term sufficing. It is probably a good idea if I slop here since the harnessing of chaos (the title of a Toyota Conference 14 years later) was the main topic up to this point. This almost finishes my life in chaos.

- Ancient 3-D Sound Movie
Spiral chaos, screw chaos, butterfly chaos and hyperchaos (all at different simulation speeds). Sound starts belatedly. Slight crossing of the eyes enables stereo impression from twin representations. Analog computer plus storage-type oscilloscope. See the movie

A review on the first chaotic system published by Otto Rössler in 1976 can be found in [1] here.

PDF - 6 Mb
Talk presented by C. Letellier at ECC 11, Lille 2010, for Otto’s 70th birthday

- On May 20, 2020, we celebrated the 80th birthday of Otto. A small report of this event by Sylvain Mangiarotti can be found here

- Some publications

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Z. Naturf. 31, 259, 1976.
  • O. E. Rössler, Chaotic behavior in simple reaction system, Zeitschrift für Naturfoschung A, 31, 259-264, 1976.
    Abstract: Deterministic nonperiodic flow (of ``chaotic’’ or ``strange’’ or ``tumbling’’ type, respectively) was first observed, in a 3-component differential system, by E. N. Lorenz in 1963. A 3-component abstract reaction system showing the same qualitative behavior is indicated. It consists of (i) an ordinary 2-variable chemical oscillator and (ii) an ordinary single-variable chemical hysteresis system. According to the same dual principle, many more analogous systems can be devised, no matter whether chemical, biochemical, biophysical, ecological, sociological, economic, or electronic in nature. Their dynamics are determined by the presence of a ``folded’’ Poincaré map. Under numerical simulation, the proposed chemical system provides an almost ideal illustration to the underlying dynamical prototype, the ``3-dimensional blender’’. Thus, continuous Euklidean dynamics (and with it chemical kinetics) proves to be of equal interest in studying chaos as discrete dynamical systems already have.
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Z. Naturf. 31, 1664, 1976
  • O. E. Rössler, Different types of chaos in two simple differential equations, Zeitschrift für Naturforschung A, 31, 1664-1670, 1976.
    Abstract: Different types of chaotic flow are possible in the 3-dimension state spaces of two simple nonlinear differential equations. The first equation consists of a 2-variable, double-focus subsystem complemented by a linearly coupled third variable. It produces at least three types of chaos: Lorenzian chaos, ``sandwich’’ chaos and ``horseshoe’’ chaos. Two figure 8-shaped chaotic regimes of the latter type are possible simultaneously, running through each other like 2 links of a chain. In the second equation, a transition between two different types of horseshoe chaos (spiral chaos and screw chaos) is possible. While sandwich chaos allows for a genuine strange attractor, the same has not yet been demonstrated for horseshoe chaos. Unlike the situation in the analogous chaos is a ``super-oscillation’’ (emergent with the third dimension), the existence of ``super-chaos’’ is postulated for the nect level.

A six-minute, super-8 sound film, demonstrating the different behavioral modes and their bifurcations in the 2 equations has been prepared. Chaos sounds as musical as a snore.

[1] C. Letellier & V. Messager, Influences on Otto E. Rössler’s earliest paper on chaos, International Journal of Bifurcation & Chaos, 20 (11), 3585-3616, 2010.


Talk presented by C. Letellier at ECC 11, Lille 2010, for Otto’s 70th birthday
PDF · 6 Mb
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Z. Naturf. 31, 1664, 1976
PDF · 627.6 kb
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Z. Naturf. 31, 259, 1976.
PDF · 680.9 kb
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