Love in the Time of Neuroinformatics
January 16, 2013 11:02 AM   Subscribe

"The models we discuss belong to the class of two-variable systems with one delay for which appropriate delay stabilizes an unstable steady state. We formulate a theorem and prove that stabilization takes place in our case. We conclude that considerable (meaning large enough, but not too large) values of time delay involved in the model can stabilize love affairs dynamics."

Steven Strogatz first proposed using a dynamical system to describe love in a note in Mathematics Magazine in 1998. (You may know him from his columns in the Times.) Since then he has inspired others (pdf - citation) to follow this track (including those using quantum mechanics). The latest research to develop Strogatz's Romeo and Juliet model is this paper by a mathematician in the Netherlands, whose "findings are also consistent with statement of classical psychology, in which relationship dynamics is described as eternal trade-off between approach and avoidance as a natural mechanism for shaping interpersonal relations, including romantic feelings."
posted by bluefly (12 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
The full text of the last paper may not be available to everyone. If you're interested in the nitty-gritty math details, the author has an earlier paper available in arXiv with similar results, here.
posted by bluefly at 11:04 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

And one last note: the author of the paper in the "others" link, has a cute presentation here.
posted by bluefly at 11:07 AM on January 16, 2013

Timing is everything.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:38 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

posted by shoepal at 12:02 PM on January 16, 2013

Timing is -- dammit.
posted by Etrigan at 12:07 PM on January 16, 2013 [9 favorites]

Ahhh!! I love dynamic systems. This is great!
posted by iamkimiam at 12:30 PM on January 16, 2013

I feel that over at MIT there must be a graph of the relationship with my college sweetheart and the couple of years after, I'm pretty sure it would look like those first orbiting rocket attempts in The Right Stuff...

Dynamically unstable systems, indeed.
posted by C.A.S. at 1:37 PM on January 16, 2013

Just because you can model something with a formal system doesn't mean that model's useful.........

Not saying that's the case here.....
posted by lalochezia at 1:45 PM on January 16, 2013

"Another example can be found in [11], where it is shown that, whenever partners are similar in terms of emotional attributes, there is an optimal effort strategy leading to a stable and happy coexistence. This approach is interesting especially due to the idea of so called second law of thermodynamics for sentimental relationships which means a tendency for the initial feeling in the relationship to fade away with time if there is no prompt from agents, which must be consciously counteracted by the partners. However, there are certain limitations for this model. First, in this framework the partners are supposed to share all personal traits, which is unlikely to happen in reality. Second, the assumption is for the relationship always to start from a fiery feeling which is often untrue."

"...for the couple living apart, it becomes much easier to separate and wait for the other person to emotionally recover whenever they find themselves in a negative state, which spoils the idea of coupled emotional dynamics."

"The paper is organized in a sandwich manner."

"Mind that this mathematically justifies the sense of working on communication in the relationship."

I am falling madly in love with this article.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:06 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

It's not just timing, but timing and communication, that's almost everything...
posted by Skygazer at 2:16 PM on January 16, 2013

Just like photons, discrete little packets that might or might not have mediated an interaction between the two particles.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:39 PM on January 16, 2013

Yeah, iamkimiam, the paper is pretty fantastic. I especially love the figures. If anyone can't view it and wants to, MeMail me, and I'll see if I can help you.

Sample figure caption:

Fig. 2. Solutions to system (2.5) with parameters given in (4.1) for different values of time delay, below and around the first critical value τ1. The phase portrait of system (2.5) for τ=0 is presented on the lower left hand-side picture. The Romeo’s emotion was shifted by 7 and Juliet’s one by 4 to display better the behaviour of the solutions around the steady state (7,4). We may observe the relationship to be unstable below a certain value of delay. Above this value, it stabilizes. This means some minimum level of sloth in Romeo is beneficial for the relationship.
posted by bluefly at 9:32 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

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