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Get in synch -- or be enslaved by it

We talk about synchronization a lot. We synch up; synch our computers; and get in synch. And synchronous behavior underlies many natural systems, events and phenomena.

Understanding conditions that cause oscillators -- which are common electronic components that produce a repetitive electronic signal -- to get in synch or fall out of synch, is necessary to achieve the optimal functioning of oscillator networks that underlie many technologies.

The transition from synchronization to desynchronization is the subject of a new investigation by a team of Japanese scientists. Their report appears in the journal CHAOS, which is published by the American Institute of Physics.

"On one hand, synchronization is necessary for communication and information processing. On the other hand, synchronization can blow violently out of proportion and enslave everything it is in contact with," explains Ralf Toenjes of Ochanomizu University. He and his colleagues show that adding only a few links to a network can have such a strong effect that even this modest addition can mark the difference between random noise and coherent synchronization. They devised a method of control that enables them to balance the system at states that are actually unstable and usually not observed.

The article, "Synchronization Transition of Identical Phase Oscillators in a Directed Small-World Network" by Ralf Toenjes (Ochanomizu University), Naoki Masuda (The University of Tokyo) and Hiroshi Kori (Ochanomizu University) appears in the journal CHAOS.

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Chaos is an interdisciplinary journal of non-linear science. The journal is published quarterly by the American Institute of Physics and is devoted to increasing the understanding of nonlinear phenomena and describing the manifestations in a manner comprehensible to researchers from a broad spectrum of disciplines. Special focus issues are published periodically each year and cover topics as diverse as the complex behavior of the human heart to chaotic fluid flow problems. See:


The American Institute of Physics is a federation of 10 physical science societies representing more than 135,000 scientists, engineers, and educators and is one of the world's largest publishers of scientific information in the physical sciences. Offering partnership solutions for scientific societies and for similar organizations in science and engineering, AIP is a leader in the field of electronic publishing of scholarly journals. AIP publishes 12 journals (some of which are the most highly cited in their respective fields), two magazines, including its flagship publication Physics Today; and the AIP Conference Proceedings series. Its online publishing platform Scitation hosts nearly two million articles from more than 185 scholarly journals and other publications of 28 learned society publishers.

Jason Socrates Bardi | EurekAlert!
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