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Synchronization: A universal concept in nonlinear sciences

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Synchronization phenomena are abundant in nature, science, engineering and social life. Synchronization was first recognized by Christiaan Huygens in 1665 for coupled pendulum clocks; this was the beginning of nonlinear sciences. First, several examples of synchronization in complex systems are presented, such as in organ pipes, fireflies, epilepsy and even in the (in)stability of large mechanical systems as bridges. These examples illustrate that, literally speaking, subsystems are able to synchronize due to interaction if they are able to communicate. Second, general physical mechanisms for synchronization and de-synchronization phenomena in coupled complex systems are presented and conditions for synchronizability are discussed. It is explained that diffusion properties give a crucial insight into this problem. I will show that the general concepts of curvature and recurrence are helpful to uncover complex synchronization. Third, applications of these new techniques are given. They range from El Nino – Monsoon interactions via electrochemical oscillators and lasers to cognitive processes during reading and to neuroscience.