Benoit Mandelbrot: Father of fractals dies at 85 | INFJ Forum

Benoit Mandelbrot: Father of fractals dies at 85

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Gaze, Oct 18, 2010.

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  1. Gaze

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    The Independent Online (UK)
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/father-of-fractals-dies-at-85-2109421.html

    Father of fractals dies at 85

    Monday, 18 October 2010

    The man whose mathematical method revolutionised our understanding of everything from economics to cauliflowers and coastlines has died of cancer at the age of 85.

    Benoit Mandelbrot, a French mathematician, died in hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
    [​IMG]

    His work with fractals, a term he coined himself, applied mathematics to the natural world, and formulated a method to help understand its infinite complexity.

    His seminal works, Fractals: Form, Chance and Dimension and The Fractal Geometry of Nature, were published in 1977 and 1982. In these, he argued that seemingly random mathematical shapes in fact followed a pattern if broken down into a single repeating shape.

    "If you cut one of the florets of a cauliflower, you see the whole cauliflower but smaller," he explained at the influential Technology Entertainment and Design (TED) conference earlier this year.

    "Then you cut again, again, again, and you still get small cauliflowers. So there are some shapes which have this peculiar property, where each part is like the whole, but smaller." The mathematical principle has been used to measure shapes previously thought unmeasurable, including coastlines and mountains.

    It was also used to generate works of art and complex designs, including the landscape of planets in the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and the Death Star outline in Star Wars. Professor Mandelbrot also applied the concept to economics, but he was critical of the global financial system, believing it to be too complex to properly function. He had worked for IBM and became a professor of mathematics at Yale.

    The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, praised him for his "powerful, original mind that never shied away from innovation and battering preconceived ideas".
     
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    #1 Gaze, Oct 18, 2010
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  2. NeverAmI

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    Gaze

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    If you use a small enough ruler, an object of finite size can have infinite circumference. Or something like that. I read about fractals a long time ago, but only vaguely remember the math.
     
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  5. middle1

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    Oh man.

    I just learned about fractals last week watching a PBS show. Interesting stuff. May he RIP.
     
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    Technically, it would have to keep iterating into smaller ruler sizes. The more precise you get, the longer it is. Although eventually it would get so small that we wouldn't have equipment to measure that precisely, not sure if the uncertainty principle would factor into that since we are not measuring velocity or anything like that.

    The coastlines may not be the best example since they are comprised of as matter, and matter (to my knowledge) has a fixed measurement at the subatomic level.

    However, in some of the fractal monsters of geometry, they can literally go on to infinity such as the Koch snowflake.

    [​IMG]
     
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