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Fractals and Mandelbrot

October 16, 2010

In honor of and memorial to Benoit Mandelbrot, here is a brief overview of fractals. He discovered fractals by accident, while trying to understand chaos and complicated shapes (“messes” as he states).

Fractals are self-similar geometric shapes that can be split into reduced-sized copies of the original shape. The term “fractal” was coined by Mandelbrot in 1975. Fractals appear similar at all levels of magnification and are defined as infinitely complex, although most children understand fractal imagery. Many objects found in nature exhibit fractal characteristics, including mountains, lightning, coastlines, snow flakes, human body elements, certain vegetables, leaves and animal coloration patterns.

Here is a link to a fractals class at Yale.

Below is a video of Mandelbrot talking about fractals at the most recent TED conference.

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