The Fractal Geometry of Nature| Benoit Mandelbrot Expands The Way We Think!

  • AUTHOR: dua
  • POSTED ON: November 20, 2020

Today, Google Doodle is celebrating Benoit Mandelbrot – known as the Father of Fractal Geometry!  The man used to take great interest in irregular shapes and processes present in nature. The research proved to be fundamental in the field, as the conclusions derived were potent in a range of fields ranging from physics to arts and even finance.

Source: Fractal 

Let’s find out more about this intellectual!

Benoit Mandelbrot was an eccentric figure in the field of mathematics. Thanks to his non-conformist ideas and perceptions, his findings became critical in the field due to which he earned the title of the “Father of Fractal Geometry”.

In 1975, he basically coined the word Fractal Geometry with the aim to describe the geometry's branch which sought to find meaning in irregular structures and shapes that are in their most natural form. These shapes and process included jagged coastlines to the ever-changing stock market's rollercoaster ride.

As mentioned above, he is a pioneer in many fields due to his revolutionary studies. He contributed to a wide range of contrasting fields, like physical finance, geology, medicine and art, etc. To honor his meritorious contributions and put forth his larger-than-life understanding of structures, Google created its Doodle for Mandelbrot on Friday on his 96th birthday.

His background is highly commendable! He was born in 1924 in Warsaw, Poland and spent his initial years reading maps and playing Chess. He never truly got the opportunity to acquire standardized education as it got interrupted for two reasons: When he was just 11 years old, his family migrated to Paris and continued moving until World War II started – which, as we already know, was the end for many dreams and ambitions.

However, these setbacks never stopped him from getting a formal education, and he continued it once the war ended. He eventually ended up earning an aeronautics master’s degree from California Institute of Technology, and by 1958, he started working at the IBM – this is where his long-withstanding academic partnership began with IBM’s Watson Research Center. By this time, the world had the IBM computers newly developed at their disposal, and so Mandelbrot used this opportunity to create fractal images that resonated with psychedelic art that represented human body and nature.

As of now, the Euclidean Geometry understood flat surface of a plane, but it was Mandelbrot who realized that shapes in nature weren’t flat at all.

In his seminal book, The Fractal Geometry of Nature, he questioned why people considered geometry to be so cold and dry. He proposed that one reason could be the inability to explain the shape of a mountain, a cloud, a tree or a coastline. He then claimed that mountains are not cones, clouds are not spheres, bark is not smooth and coastlines are not circles, and neither is lightening a straight line. The book was published in 1982.

These graphical pictures that were drawn by the algorithms have earned a place in popular culture; you can find them on T-shirts, posters, and album covers. In fact, it was his fantastical theory that inspired the song Mandelbrot Set by Jonathan Coulton and Arthur C. Clarke’s novel, The Colors of Infinity: The Beauty, and the Sense of Fractals.   

Mandelbrot worked tirelessly to further develop the formula that he used to explain the phenomenon. It eventually got popular by the name the Mandelbrot Set. For 35 years, he worked in relative obscurity, after which he accepted a position at Yale University as a Mathematics Professor. He formally joined in 1987.

Source: Wikipedia

Furthermore, he won several awards in recognition of his contributions in a variety of fields. He was also awarded the prestigious Wolf Prize for Physics in 1993. And the most interesting ode to his incredible work was when a small asteroid was named after him in 2000.

The Mathematic genius died in 2010 at the age of 85 from pancreatic cancer. To celebrate his intellect, Google has also introduced a Mandelbrot Fractal Easter egg which permits you to explore the endless patterns of Mandelbrot set along with an interactive fractal viewer.

To truly know Mandelbrot, you need to understand his work. Fractal Geometry is a synthesis of ancient mathematical constructs and formulas. The idea was popularized by interpretations of terrain on a computer graphic platform. Fractal Geometry has invested in diverse scientific domains and received rapid credibility due to its ability to verify phenomena that defies discrete computations as a cause of discontinuities.

However, with instant appreciation came a bunch of compounding problems. Fractal Geometry is a widely misconstrued idea that can quickly evaporate due to grandiose terminology that has really no purpose. In its essence, there is an induction that uses basic geometric constructs to change initiating objects. The fractal objects that are created using this process tend to appear similar to natural phenomenon. The purpose of this study was to showcase fractal geometry to the graphic programmers as a unique but basic technique.

Benoit B. Mandelbrot felt the need to give geometry a new reputation, as he felt that Euclidean geometry is not up to the mark as a model for natural objects. If you’ve ever drawn a picture of irregular objects, like a tree, on a computer screen by utilizing the Euclidean drawing primitives, this statement would make absolute sense.

The strength of Mandelbrot’s conclusions was critical in research; it practically helped in the development of this theory. He exhibited how mathematical functions provide valuable insights in regards to the creation models developed to explain natural objects, like mountains and coastlines. He must be considered the most important figure in the field of mathematics, as his theory of synthesis at the time was monumental as science was gaining momentum and scientific models were receiving acclaim.

There were numerous goals of this research. First of all, it must be understood that there are practically two approaches that can be considered authentic in the investigation of Fractal Geometry and computer graphics.

His goals were to provide computers with due credibility as tools that help enhance the investigation and research of fractal geometry. The research was also designed to study the mathematical formulation of Fractal Geometry and give evidence practically of its application to computer graphics.

All in all, one can conclude that Mandelbrot was a genius who challenged our perceptions and made valuable contributions in the world of Fractal Geometry!

Updated November 20, 2020
Back To Top