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IBM100: Memories of Benoit Mandelbrot, by Michael Frame

An early cosmology placed the earth on the backs of four elephants, 
all standing on a turtle. The question, “On what did the turtle
 stand?” always was answered, “It’s turtles all the way down.” Calculus 
and all of 19th century analysis worked because the functions studied
 are more closely approximated by their tangent lines the more closely we 
look. When we zoom in, the curves appear simpler. By the start of the 
20th century, mathematicians knew some examples where this was false,
 but these were regarded as monsters. Benoit Mandelbrot recognized the
 mathematics of these monsters described much of nature, and expanded 
this idea into fractal geometry. Very often, nature does not get simpler
 under magnification; Benoit gave us a way to quantify the fact that
 it’s complicated all the way down.

Michael Frame, a Yale University professor, worked alongside Benoit Mandelbrot, a world renowned mathematician and IBMer, known for coining the word fractal and developing the Mandelbrot set. Read the rest of Frame’s article, here.


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