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  1. Abstract

    The pedestrian-induced instability of the London Millennium Bridge is a widely used example of Kuramoto synchronisation. Yet, reviewing observational, experimental, and modelling evidence, we argue that increased coherence of pedestrians’ foot placement is a consequence of, not a cause of the instability. Instead, uncorrelated pedestrians produce positive feedback, through negative damping on average, that can initiate significant lateral bridge vibration over a wide range of natural frequencies. We present a simple general formula that quantifies this effect, and illustrate it through simulation of three mathematical models, including one with strong propensity for synchronisation. Despite subtle effects of gait strategies in determining precise instability thresholds, our results show that average negative damping is always the trigger. More broadly, we describe an alternative to Kuramoto theory for emergence of coherent oscillations in nature; collective contributions from incoherent agents need not cancel, but can provide positive feedback on average, leading to global limit-cycle motion.

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  2. Double-scroll attractors are one of the pillars of modern chaos theory. However, rigorous computer-free analysis of their existence and global structure is often elusive. Here, we address this fundamental problem by constructing an analytically tractable piecewise-smooth system with a double-scroll attractor. We derive a Poincaré return map to prove the existence of the double-scroll attractor and explicitly characterize its global dynamical properties. In particular, we reveal a hidden set of countably many saddle orbits associated with infinite-period Smale horseshoes. These complex hyperbolic sets emerge from an ordered iterative process that yields sequential intersections between different horseshoes and their preimages. This novel distinctive feature differs from the classical Smale horseshoes, directly intersecting with their own preimages. Our global analysis suggests that the structure of the classical Chua attractor and other figure-eight attractors might be more complex than previously thought.

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  3. Repulsive oscillator networks can exhibit multiple cooperative rhythms, including chimera and cluster splay states. Yet, understanding which rhythm prevails remains challenging. Here, we address this fundamental question in the context of Kuramoto-Sakaguchi networks of rotators with higher-order Fourier modes in the coupling. Through analysis and numerics, we show that three-cluster splay states with two distinct, coherent clusters and a solitary oscillator are the prevalent rhythms in networks with an odd number of units. We denote such tripod patterns cyclops states with the solitary oscillator reminiscent of the Cyclops’ eye. As their mythological counterparts, the cyclops states are giants that dominate the system’s phase space in weakly repulsive networks with first-order coupling. Astonishingly, the addition of the second or third harmonics to the Kuramoto coupling function makes the cyclops states global attractors practically across the full range of coupling’s repulsion. Beyond the Kuramoto oscillators, we show that this effect is robustly present in networks of canonical theta neurons with adaptive coupling. At a more general level, our results suggest clues for finding dominant rhythms in repulsive physical and biological networks. 
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  4. Non-smooth dynamics induced by switches, impacts, sliding, and other abrupt changes are pervasive in physics, biology, and engineering. Yet, systems with non-smooth dynamics have historically received far less attention compared to their smooth counterparts. The classic “Bristol book” [di Bernardo et al., Piecewise-smooth Dynamical Systems. Theory and Applications (Springer-Verlag, 2008)] contains a 2008 state-of-the-art review of major results and challenges in the study of non-smooth dynamical systems. In this paper, we provide a detailed review of progress made since 2008. We cover hidden dynamics, generalizations of sliding motion, the effects of noise and randomness, multi-scale approaches, systems with time-dependent switching, and a variety of local and global bifurcations. Also, we survey new areas of application, including neuroscience, biology, ecology, climate sciences, and engineering, to which the theory has been applied.

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