Saturday, October 16, 2010

Benoit Mandelbrot, RIP

It has been reported that Benoit Mandelbrot has passed away. I remember watching a documentary on this brilliant mathematician and they were describing how it is impossible to truly measure a coastline: the smaller the unit of measurement the longer the coastline. His discoveries of fractals allowed the world of animation to produce extreme realism.


Greybishop said...

I watched "Hunting the Hidden Dimension" and was blown away. Mandelbrot's genius LITERALLY shapes the world around us in the 21st century. Without him, we'd still be oohing and ah-ing at computer graphics at the level of Ms. Pacman and Tron.

Of course, Mandelbrot's work has done more than just improve computer animation, but that's the most obvious product of his work. Given the enormity of what fractal mathematics can (and do, and will continue to) tell us about genetics, chemistry and more, I'm pretty sure that humanity will look back on the 21st Century as the Mandelbrot Century. Without him, a large part of the leaps we will see in the next 100 years would be impossible.

It sounds like I'm overstating, I know, but if I could make a bet on my "Mandelbrot Century" prediction (which I can't since it'll probably take another 100 years or so before it becomes recognized as such), I'd bet the house, the farm and the livestock on it.

There are still a few detractors of the Mandelbrot influence, but it's difficult to deny his genius when a mathematic concept turns out to apply equally well in fields like biology, physics, computer design, architecture and chemistry to name just a few, with new applications being developed all the time.

Sawsee said...

Hi GB! I'll have to watch the documentary you reference. People like Mandlebrot make me feel very small. I tried to read Wolfram who references patterns but I quickly realized that I was completely over my head. I applaud these trailblazers and agree that Mandlebrot will be recognized, appropriately, for his enormous contribution. If I only could understand a fraction. Time for some pi

; )