After Hours

A remembrance of Benoit Mandelbrot, the father of fractal geometry

Benoit Mandelbrot, who is considered the father of fractal geometry, died last week. Edmond Woychowsky offers this remembrance of the great mathematician, author, Yale professor, and IBM Fellow.

Last week the world lost one of its great minds when mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot passed away. He was a member of Yale University's prestigious Department of Mathematics and an IBM Fellow.

Mandelbrot worked on the kinds of mathematical problems that are beyond the comprehension of most people, but that doesn't mean his work didn't impact people in a positive way. His work has had a profound impact on other fields, including art, fluid dynamics, medicine, kinematics, seismology, and music.

Fractals were Mandelbrot life's work. His book The Fractal Geometry of Nature describes the world around us — land, water and sky — in terms of fractals. While this talk of fractals might seem abstract, imagine computer games and CGI movies without fractal landscapes.

It seems to me that the majority of people were unaware that a giant walked among us, except perhaps for Jonathan Coulton who wrote a song about the Mandelbrot set. Fortunately, the father of fractal geometry left the beauty of his fractals to remind us that he was here.

Fractal galleries on TechRepublic

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