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Chaos arises from the exponential growth of infinitesimal perturbations,
together with global folding mechanisms to guarantee boundedness of the
solutions. This exponential instability is characterized by the spectrum of
Lyapunov exponents [67]. If one assumes a local decomposition of
the phase space into directions with different stretching or contraction rates,
then the spectrum of exponents is the proper average of these local rates over
the whole invariant set, and thus consists of as many exponents as there are
space directions. The most prominent problem in time series analysis is that
the physical phase space is unknown, and that instead the spectrum is computed
in some embedding space. Thus the number of exponents depends on the
reconstruction, and might be larger than in the physical phase space. Such
additional exponents are called *spurious*, and there are several
suggestions to either avoid them [68] or to identify them. Moreover,
it is plausible that only as many exponents can be determined from a time
series as are entering the Kaplan Yorke formula (see below). To give a simple
example: Consider motion of a high-dimensional system on a stable limit
cycle. The data cannot contain any information about the stability of this
orbit against perturbations, as long as they are exactly on the limit
cycle. For transients, the situation can be different, but then data are not
distributed according to an invariant measure and the numerical values are thus
difficult to interpret. Apart from these difficulties, there is one relevant
positive feature: Lyapunov exponents are invariant under smooth transformations
and are thus independent of the measurement function or the embedding
procedure. They carry a dimension of an inverse time and have to be normalized
to the sampling interval.

** Next:** The maximal exponent
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*Thomas Schreiber *

Wed Jan 6 15:38:27 CET 1999