29. Time, Change & Movement

Time, change & movement

Whenever there is movement, whether physical or abstract, time plays a key role in the articulation of change.

The modern study of change dates largely from the 17th century, when Isaac Newton in England and Gottfried Leibnitz in Germany developed infinitesimal calculus.
This branch of mathematical analysis made it possible to describe changes over time using equations.

Changes can be studied, simulated, and artificially created thanks to the notion of dynamical system:  a mathematical model that represents an object or a system having a finite number of degrees of freedom, and changing in time according to an evolution rule.

Studying these systems and their laws, the question of whether they could be controlled became increasingly popular. Disciplines such as automation and control theory were formalised in the mid-19th century to regulate mechanical machine behaviours. These disciplines have continued to evolve since then until becoming crucial for the running of today’s stock markets or the development of artificial intelligence.

The evolution of these fields of study branched out in multiple directions, all sharing the interaction of time with space and matter, investigating the state of the “now” towards its transformation into the “later”.

Whether used to control a complex electromechanical system, to articulate time in space through the body of a dancer, or to regulate financial algorithms, mathematics is the alphabet of the language of movement and change over time.