Skip to main content

Unit information: Dynamical Systems and Ergodic Theory 3 in 2022/23

Unit name Dynamical Systems and Ergodic Theory 3
Unit code MATH36206
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Koivusalo
Open unit status Not open
Units you must take before you take this one (pre-requisite units)

MATH10011 Analysis and MATH10012 ODEs, Curves and Dynamics

MATH20006 Metric Spaces is helpful (students will benefit from some familiarity with metric spaces) but not required: some basic notions in metric spaces and measure theory will be provided.

Units you must take alongside this one (co-requisite units)


Units you may not take alongside this one
School/department School of Mathematics
Faculty Faculty of Science

Unit Information

Unit Aims

The course will provide an introduction to subject of dynamical systems, from a pure-mathematical point of view. The first part of the course will be driven by examples so that students will become familiar with various basic models of dynamical systems. We will then develop the mathematical background and the main concepts in topological dynamics, symbolic dynamics and ergodic theory. We will also show applications to other areas of pure mathematics and concrete problems as Internet search.

Unit Description

Dynamical systems is an exciting and very active field in pure and applied mathematics, that involves tools and techniques from many areas such as analysis, geometry and number theory. A dynamical system can be obtained by iterating a function or letting evolve in time the solution of equation. Even if the rule of evolution is deterministic, the long term behavior of the system is often chaotic. Different branches of dynamical systems, in particular ergodic theory, provide tools to quantify this chaotic behaviour and predict it in average.

At the beginning of this lecture course we will give a strong emphasis on presenting many fundamental examples of dynamical systems, such as circle rotations, the baker map on the square and the continued fraction map. Driven by the examples, we will introduce some of the phenomena and main concepts which one is interested in studying.

In the second part of the course, we will formalize these concepts and cover the basic definitions and some fundamental theorems and results in topological dynamics, in symbolic dynamics and in particular in ergodic theory. We will give full proofs of some of the main theorems.

During the course we will also mention some applications both to other areas of mathematics, such as number theory, and to very concrete problems as Internet search engines.

Relation to Other Units

This unit has connections with Analysis, Number Theory, Statistical Mechanics and Quantum Chaos. In particular, the course will provide good background in dynamics for students interested in Statistical Mechanics. Some of the topics presented have applications in Number Theory (Gauss map, Weyl’s theorem and equidistributions).

The course will provide a strong foundation from a more pure pespective for more advanced applied courses such as Applied Dynamical Systems and the Engineering unit Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos.

Metric Spaces is helpful (students will benefit from some familiarity with metric spaces) but not required: some basic notions in metric spaces and measure theory will be provided.

This unit will provide a a pure-mathematical complementary perspective to the Dynamics & Chaos units in applied dynamical systems offered by the Engineering Mathematics Department.

Your learning on this unit

Learning Objectives

By the end of the unit the student:

  • will have developed an excellent background in the area of dynamical systems,
  • will be familiar with the basic concepts, results, and techniques relevant to the area,
  • will have detailed knowledge of a number of fundamental examples that help clarify and motivate the main concepts in the theory,
  • will understand the proofs of the fundamental theorems in the area,
  • will have mastered the application of dynamical systems techniques for solving a range of standard problems,
  • will have a firm foundation for further study in the area.

Transferable Skills

Assimilation of abstract ideas and reasoning in an abstract context. Problem solving and ability to work out model examples.

How you will learn

The unit will be taught through a combination of

  • synchronous online and, if subsequently possible, face-to-face lectures
  • asynchronous online materials, including narrated presentations and worked examples
  • guided asynchronous independent activities such as problem sheets and/or other exercises
  • synchronous weekly group problem/example classes, workshops and/or tutorials
  • synchronous weekly group tutorials
  • synchronous weekly office hours

How you will be assessed

90% Timed, open-book examination 10% Coursework

Raw scores on the examinations will be determined according to the marking scheme written on the examination paper. The marking scheme, indicating the maximum score per question, is a guide to the relative weighting of the questions. Raw scores are moderated as described in the Undergraduate Handbook.

If you fail this unit and are required to resit, reassessment is by a written examination in the August/September Resit and Supplementary exam period.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. MATH36206).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.