Also found in: Dictionary, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to catastrophe theory: Chaos theory
a branch of mathematics that deals with large changes in the total system resulting from small changes in a critical variable in the system; some epidemics, gene frequencies, and the social behavior of populations may be explained by this theory.
catastrophe theorya set of mathematical theorems employed in the modelling of discontinuities in the physical world, that result when gradually changing and interacting variables reach a critical point. Applied in sportpsychology to the understanding of sudden decrements or increments in performance, incorporating changes in cognitive anxiety, physiological arousal and self-confidence.
the mathematical basis for the study of large changes in a total system which may result from small changes in a critical variable in the system.