# Bifurcation theory

**Bifurcation theory** is the mathematical study of changes in the qualitative or topological structure of a given family, such as the integral curves of a family of vector fields, and the solutions of a family of differential equations. Most commonly applied to the mathematical study of dynamical systems, a **bifurcation** occurs when a small smooth change made to the parameter values (the bifurcation parameters) of a system causes a sudden 'qualitative' or topological change in its behavior.[1] Bifurcations occur in both continuous systems (described by ODEs, DDEs or PDEs) and discrete systems (described by maps). The name "bifurcation" was first introduced by Henri Poincaré in 1885 in the first paper in mathematics showing such a behavior.[2] Henri Poincaré also later named various types of stationary points and classified them with motif.