Goodbye, Father Fractal, Benoit Mandelbrot

Goodbye, Father Fractal, Benoit Mandelbrot

By tpm | October 19, 2010

I don’t know how many of you caught the news last week that Benoit Mandelbrot had passed away at the age of 85. If you’re like me, you probably don’t know much about Mandelbrot, but you may be familiar with fractals, and specifically, with his famous discovery, the Mandelbrot set.

Fractals are mathematical structures of infinite complexity. No matter how much you zoom in on one, you will always find more structures and designs within it.  That’s rather mindbending if you think about it. Pictures of the Mandelbrot set adorn countless high school and college classrooms around the world. It’s beautiful and mesmerizing.

As a result of the work of Mandelbrot and other mathematicians, fractal geometry has come a long way in the span of little more than a century. Today fractals are used for image and audio compression, video game design, and a host of other applications. May Mr. Mandelbrot rest in peace. I encourage you to read up on his famous discovery on Wikipedia.

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