Father of fractals Mandelbrot dies

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by phenomena, Oct 20, 2010.

  1. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/10/17/3040457.htm

    Posted Sun Oct 17, 2010 12:48pm AEDT

    Maverick French-American mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, who explored a new class of mathematical shapes known as fractals, has died at age 85 in the United States, his family said.

    Dr Mandelbrot, who died of cancer in Cambridge, Massachusetts, became known for his ground-breaking study of fractal geometry, used to measure irregular outlines once considered unmeasurable.

    Even if the name Mandelbrot is unfamiliar, there is a good chance you will have seen one of the colourful and intricate images created by his mathematical formulas.

    His seminal book, The Fractal Geometry of Nature, published in 1982, argued that irregular mathematical objects once dismissed as "pathological" were a reflection of nature.

    The fractal geometry he developed would be used to measure natural phenomena like clouds or coastlines that once were believed to be unmeasurable. He applied the theory to physics, biology, finance and many other fields of study.

    French president Nicolas Sarkozy paid tribute to Dr Mandelbrot, saying he had "a powerful, original mind that never shied away from innovation and battering preconceived ideas".

    "His work, which was entirely developed outside the main research channels, led to a modern information theory," Mr Sarkozy said.

    He said the mathematician had been "very critical of the prevailing banking models", adding that his "warnings were not heeded.

    "France is proud to have received Benoit Mandelbrot and to have allowed him to benefit from the best education," Mr Sarkozy said.

    A professor emeritus at Yale University, Dr Mandelbrot was born in Poland but as a child moved with his family to France where he was educated.

    In the United States and around the world, his work attracted the attention of academics, but also pop culture because the fractals he uncovered could be illustrated in the stunningly beautiful representations.

    David Mumford, a professor of mathematics at Brown University, told the New York Times that Dr Mandelbrot revolutionised his field.

    "Applied mathematics had been concentrating for a century on phenomena which were smooth, but many things were not like that: the more you blew them up with a microscope the more complexity you found," the Times quoted him as saying.

    Mathematicians and economists were among those who reacted swiftly to Dr Mandelbrot's death on the internet.

    Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the statistician and philosopher best known for the book The Black Swan, turned over his website to mourn Dr Mandelbrot's passing.

    The page featured only the words: "Benoit Mandelbrot, 1924-2010, A Greek among Romans."

    Dr Mandelbrot leaves behind his wife, Aliette, two sons and three grandchildren.

    - AFP/BBC
  2. Mandelbrot kept potheads glued to the screen for hours.

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  3. Uh oh!!!! Sounds like peily has smoked pot before!!! Little unintentional confession there peil?? LOL!!!