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Certain dynamical systems exhibit a phenomenon called bubbling, whereby small perturbations induce intermittent bursting. In this Letter we show that, as a parameter is varied through a critical value, the transition to bubbling can be "hard" (the bursts appear abruptly with large amplitude) or "soft" (the maximum burst amplitude increases continuously from zero), and that the presence or absence of symmetry in the unperturbed system has a fundamental effect on these transitions. These results are confirmed by numerical and physical experiments.
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