Complexity Explorer Santa Fe Institute

tipping point

Places where a small change in the input can dramatically affect the outcome. 

The term is said to have originated in the field of epidemiology when an infectious disease reaches a point beyond any local ability to control it from spreading more widely. A tipping point is often considered to be a turning point. The term is now used in many fields to describe almost any change that is likely to lead to additional consequences. In the butterfly effect of chaos theory, for example, the small flap of the butterfly's wings that in time leads to unexpected and unpredictable results could be considered a tipping point. 

Nonlinear Dynamics, Chaos, Self-Organization