Hidden bifurcations and attractors in nonsmooth dynamical system

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We investigate the role of hidden terms at switching surfaces in piecewise smooth vector fields. Hidden terms are zero everywhere except at the switching surfaces, but appear when blowing up the switching surface into a switching layer. When discontinuous systems do surprising things, we can often make sense of them by extending our intuition for smooth system to the switching layer. We illustrate the principle here with a few attractors that are hidden inside the switching layer, being evident in the flow, despite not being directly evident in the vector field outside the switching surface. These can occur either at a single switch (where we will introduce hidden terms somewhat artificially to demonstrate the principle), or at the intersection of multiple switches (where hidden terms arise inescapably). A more subtle role of hidden terms is in bifurcations, and we revisit some simple cases from previous literature here, showing that they exhibit degeneracies inside the switching layer, and that the degeneracies can be broken using hidden terms. We illustrate the principle in systems with one or two switches.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1650068
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


  • Discontinuity
  • sliding
  • bifurcation
  • hidden
  • layer

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