Monday, March 1, 2010 - 15:00
1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Hamiltonian systems typically exhibit a mixture of chaos and regularity, complicating any scheme to partition phase space and extract a symbolic description of the dynamics. In particular, the dynamics in the vicinity of stable islands can exhibit extremely complicated topology. We present an approach to extracting symbolic dynamics in such systems using networks of nested heteroclinic tangles-- fundamental geometric objects that organize phase space transport. These tangles can be used to progressively approximate the behavior in the vicinity of stable island chains. The net result is a symbolic approximation to the dynamics, and an associated phase-space partition, that includes the influence of stable islands. The utility of this approach is illustrated by examining two applications in atomic physics -- the chaotic escape of ultracold atoms from an atomic trap and the chaotic ionization of atoms in external fields.