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Selforganization in physical systems: rhythms, patterns, and chaos

Module PH1311

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Module version of SS 2017 (current)

There are historic module descriptions of this module. A module description is valid until replaced by a newer one.

Whether the module’s courses are offered during a specific semester is listed in the section Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature below.

available module versions
SS 2017SS 2011

Basic Information

PH1311 is a semester module in English language at Master’s level which is offered every semester.

This Module is included in the following catalogues within the study programs in physics.

  • Catalogue of student seminars for condensed matter physics
  • Catalogue of student seminars for nuclear, particle, and astrophysics
  • Catalogue of student seminars for Biophysics
  • Catalogue of student seminars for Applied and Engineering Physics

If not stated otherwise for export to a non-physics program the student workload is given in the following table.

Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
120 h 60 h 4 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH1311 is Katharina Krischer.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


Self-organization deals with the spontaneous formation of order from unstructured states. It is a highly interdisciplinary topic studied in the framework of nonlinear dynamics. There are overlaps between physics and other sciences like chemistry, biology or materials science. The development of rhythms, patterns or chaos in the different fields can be described by a unified mathematical approach.

The topics of the talks cover a variety of temporal and spatial self-organization: Logistic Map, Chaotic Waterwheel, Josephson Junction, Lotka-Volterra-Model, Van-der-Pol-Oscillator, Firing of Nerve Cells, Sand Dune Dynamics, Grain Stratification, Self Organized Criticality, Viscous Fingering, Mandelbrot Set, Fibonacci Sequence, Spiral Waves, Spiral Slime Mold, Rayleigh-Benard Convection, Turing Patterns.

Students can also propose their own topics within the field! Students have to perform a literature search and prepare a talk of 30-40 minutes. There will be a discussion on the subject after the talk and the student should be able to answer questions to the other participants of the seminar. The talk has to be discussed with the instructor beforehand.

Learning Outcome

After participation in the Module the student is able to:

  1. Perform bibliographical searches on published papers and in the internet for information relevant to specific topic
  2. Finding scientific papers online
  3. Condense their knowlegde into a presentation and obtain presentation skills
  4. Understand the interaction of experimental, numerical and analytical approaches in nonlinear dynamics


No special preconditions.

Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

Learning and Teaching Methods

Preparation and presentation of a scientific talk, beamer presentation, board work, advisor discussion, literature studies.


Presentation materials, complementary literature


  • J. D. Murray "Mathematical Biology I", "Mathmatical Biology II"
  • S. H. Strogatz "Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos"
  • J.M.T. Thompson, H.B. Stewart "Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos"
  • J.Parisi "Nonlinear Physics of Complex Systems"
  • paper citations will be given for the individual talk topics

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

In the course of the seminar each student individually prepares a talk on a topic of current research. Based on this talk the learning outcome is tested.

Exam Repetition

There is a possibility to take the exam in the following semester.

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