Saturday, November 20, 2010

Benoît B. Mandelbrot (November 20,1924)

Benoit Mandelbrot, who died last month, was a pioneer in mathematics and its applications, and also a nearly mythical public figure. For example, one of his recent obituaries stated:
“He is best known for art based on his work.”
Among more mathematically educated individuals than those referenced in the quote, Mandelbrot is known for his original work on fractal geometry, which he described and named. His book The Fractal Geometry of Nature (1982) remains a very important classic.

I met Mandelbrot and his wife while accompanying my husband at a number of conferences about the applications of his work. I found his reminiscences of how he fled the Nazis in wartime France especially fascinating; as I’m not a mathematician or scientist, I am only a bystander in understanding his great contribution.

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