Benoît Mandelbrot 1924-2010
It was sad to read late last night that Benoît Mandelbrot had just died. He was an outstanding mathematician and the individual that coined the term ‘fractal’. Obituaries can be found at the New York Times and the BBC.
Beside the fractal he is perhaps most famous for the Mandlebrot Set (see an image above), which of course has fractal geometry. As a grad student, in the late ’80s and early ’90s, myself and a few others would run our computers in our spare time to generate Mandlebrot sets and we would zoom in and explore different regions. This was outside our main research work but these images were so beautiful it was fun to explore the set by mathematically zooming in to different regions. Professionally I still work in nonlinear science and I was sad to hear of the passing of Mandlebrot. His legacy to our understanding of the natural world and nonlinear science is considerable. Here is a clip of a BBC documentary that explains some of what he helped us understand.
Here is the man himself talking earlier this year at a TED talk.
If you are wondering if there is a connection to amateur radio. Well besides a better understanding of our natural world, Mandelbrot’s work gave us fractal antennas.
His work was quite interesting and I suspect will be studied for many years since the implications are quite deep. Using acide free paper I sent him a printout of his most famous fractal, along with an SASE, and asked him to sign it. He did and it’s now nicely framed at home.