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In a linear system (such as a vibrating string of a pendulum), if the system is displaced (the string plucked), it will start to vibrate or oscillate. However, by the second law of thermodynamics the system will decay to rest. In a non-linear system, e.g., a watch, a human being, a working engine, supplied with a constant source of fuel or energy, it is possible to obtain configurations such that if the system has started vibrating, oscillating or running, it will continue if the cycle thus formed operates independent of the precise initial starting conditions, in spite of the fact that the system is lossy and in spite of moderate disturbances that try to slow the process down or speed it up, then it is said to be a limit cycle (Iberall).
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