We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2021/2022

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Mathematical Sciences

MATH43320: Ergodic Theory and Dynamics

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2021/22
Tied to G1K509 Mathematical Sciences


  • Prior knowledge of Analysis and Topology


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce key concepts in the pure mathematical description of discrete dynamical systems and to study these concepts in a body of examples. To prove and apply major classical theorems from the field.


  • Dynamical systems in dimension one: circle rotations; doubling map; expanding maps.
  • Baker’s map; symbolic dynamics.
  • Concepts from topological dynamics: minimality; topological conjugacy; topological mixing; topological entropy.
  • Concepts from ergodic theory: invariant measures; ergodicity; mixing; Markov measures, metric entropy.
  • Poincaré recurrence; Birkhoff’s Ergodic Theorem; Perron-Frobenius Theorem; The ergodic theorem for Markov Chains; Variational principle.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students will:
  • Be able to solve novel and/or complex problems in the given topics.
  • Have a knowledge and understanding of this subject demonstrated through an ability to compute the topological/metric entropy of a variety of important dynamical systems and to be able to tell if these are ergodic, minimal or (topologically) mixing.
  • Be able to reproduce theoretical mathematics related to this course at a level appropriate for Level 4, including key definitions and theorems.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will have developed advanced technical and scholastic skills in the areas of Ergodic Theory and Dynamical Systems.
Key Skills:
  • Students will have highly specialised skills in the following areas: problem solving, abstract reasoning.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures demonstrate what is required to be learned and the application of the theory to practical examples.
  • Problem classes show how to solve example problems in an ideal way, revealing also the thought processes behind such solutions.
  • Formative assessments provide feedback to guide students in the correct development of their knowledge and skills in preparation for the summative assessment.
  • The end-of-year examination assesses the knowledge acquired and the ability to solve predictable and unpredictable problems.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 42 2 per week in Michaelmas and Epiphany; 2 in Easter 1 hour 42
Problems Classes 8 Fortnightly in Michaelmas and Epiphany 1 hour 8
Preparation and Reading 150
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
End of year written examination 3 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

Weekly written or electronic assignments to be assessed and returned. Other assignments are set for self-study and complete solutions are made available to students.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University