Canards and curvature: nonsmooth approximation by pinching

MF Desroches, MR Jeffrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
359 Downloads (Pure)


In multiple time-scale (singularly perturbed) dynamical systems, canards are counterintuitive solutions that evolve along both attracting and repelling invariant manifolds. In two dimensions, canards result in periodic oscillations whose amplitude and period grow in a highly nonlinear way: they are slowly varying with respect to a control parameter, except for an exponentially small range of values where they grow extremely rapidly. This sudden growth, called a canard explosion, has been encountered in many applications ranging from chemistry to neuronal dynamics, aerospace engineering and ecology. Canards were initially studied using nonstandard analysis, and later the same results were proved by standard techniques such as matched asymptotics, invariant manifold theory and parameter blow-up. More recently, canard-like behaviour has been linked to surfaces of discontinuity in piecewise-smooth dynamical systems. This paper provides a new perspective on the canard phenomenon by showing that the nonstandard analysis of canard explosions can be recast into the framework of piecewise-smooth dynamical systems. An exponential coordinate scaling is applied to a singularly perturbed system of ordinary differential equations. The scaling acts as a lens that resolves dynamics across all time-scales. The changes of local curvature that are responsible for canard explosions are then analyzed. Regions where different time-scales dominate are separated by hypersurfaces, and these are pinched together to obtain a piecewise-smooth system, in which curvature changes manifest as discontinuity-induced bifurcations. The method is used to classify canards in arbitrary dimensions, and to derive the parameter values over which canards form either small cycles (canards without head) or large cycles (canards with head).
Translated title of the contributionCanards and curvature: nonsmooth approximation by pinching
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1655 - 1682
Number of pages28
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011

Structured keywords

  • Engineering Mathematics Research Group


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