21st Nov 2012

The Mandelbrot Set

Benoit Mandelbrot was a mathematician who coined the term fractal: a geometric figure that repeats itself on progressively smaller scales. He spent much of his career at the IBM Watson Research Center, and in 1978 he was the first to use a computer to construct a graphical representation of a set of numbers, now known as “The Mandelbrot Set.” It is a fractal because it displays self-similarity at magnified scales with an infinite level of detail, but it’s also an infinitely complex representation because the small-scale details aren’t always exactly the same as the whole image. The Mandelbrot set is generated quite simply using iteration, which is to repeat a process over and over again. In mathematical terms this just means it’s generated from a equation that involves complex numbers (numbers that have a real part and an imaginary’ part, i.e. 3+2i). It is one of the most widely recognised fractals, and its beautiful, fascinatingly intricate structures reflect nature itself.

(Image Credit)

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