Benoit Mandelbrot and the eternal fractals

On October 14th, the great French mathematician Benoît Mandelbrot, passed away, aged 85.  The news was made public only today.
Mandelbrot is best know for his research on recursive structures, which he discovered as being underlying principles in his work on information technology, economics and fluid dynamics.  He later called these structures “fractals” and first published his ideas and findings in 1975 in the work “Fractals: form, chance and dimension”.
His work would achieve great heights in the 80’s as a new field of science – chaos theory, opened up new ways of looking at the world around us, and underpinning the importance of recursive patterns.

Most of us know the fracals as the cool 2-D computer generated images which were very popular in the 80’s.  Browsing through my collection of Commodore 64’er magazines, not an issues goes by without someone sending in a program to create these mysterious images on the Commodore.  I remember I had a play with the algorithms trying to get the wizardry to appear on my computer screen :)

What we didn’t have in the ol’ days, was the computer power we have now.  Recently, a quest by a group of math geeks to create a three-dimensional analogue for these mesmerizing fractals has ended in a stunning success.  The group created what they call the Mandelbulb.  The 3-D renderings were generated by applying an iterative algorithm to a sphere.  The same calculation is applied over and over to the sphere’s points in three dimensions, similar to how the original 2-D Mandelbrot set generates its infinite and self-repeating complexity.

If Mandelbrot would have had the computer power we have now back in the 70’s, who knows what strange findings he might have discovered!

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