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Profile of Benoit Mandelbrot

Benoit B. Mandelbrot is Sterling Professor Emeritus of Mathematical Sciences at Yale University and IBM Fellow Emeritus (Physics) at the IBM Research Centre. Karl Sarnow explains more...

He is best known as the founder of fractal geometry – the first broad attempt to investigate quantitatively the ubiquitous notion of roughness. He had no formal teacher but was strongly influenced by Paul Lévy, Norbert Wiener and John von Neumann. He seeks a measure of order in physical, mathematical or social phenomena that are characterized by abundant data but wild variability, and speaks eloquently for “the unity of knowing and feeling.”

The famous Mandelbrot set, named after him, fascinates scientists and non-scientists as well, simply because of its beauty. It is a good hook to start thinking about mathematics, computer programming or computer graphics at school level.

The Mandelbrot competition (http://www.mandelbrot.org/) is one of his school oriented activities, which he supports by giving his name – only open to schools in the USA.

Besides the many scientific prizes and honours given to him, he also received the “Science for Art” Prize, given to him by the Fondation Moët-Hennessy-Louis Vuitton, Paris, France, which honours aesthetic aspects of his scientific work.

His famous book "The Fractal Geometry of Nature" has drawn the attention of a whole generation of maths and science teachers and students - an effect we would like to prolong with our science portal Xplora.

Benoit B. Mandelbrot is still writing about science. His latest works include books as well as DVD publications:

• Book - The (Mis)Behavior of Markets: A Fractal View of Risk, Ruin and Reward by B.B. Mandelbrot & R.L. Hudson (2004, New York: Basic Books)

• Book - Fractals and Chaos: The Mandelbrot Set and Beyond by B.B. Mandelbrot (2004, (New York: Springer)

• DVD/Video – Keys to Fractals: Nine Brief Visits for Teachers and Students (Yale Fractals Workshops and Gordonfilms, 2004)

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