The mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot died today of pancreatic cancer at the age of 85, but most people probably don’t have a clue who he was.

Often called the “father of fractals”, Mandelbrot was one of the most well-known pioneers into this abstract field of mathematics.

He studied the works of Gaston Julia among others and coined the term “fractal” for certain geometric shapes that displayed certain unique properties. Fractal geometry had already been studied by Leibniz back in the 17th century, but Mandelbrot brought this obscure backwater mathematics out into the open. In 1980 he saw the first visualization of what would later be named the Mandelbrot set.

The infinitely complex patterns of a fractal geometry become apparent as more intricate details appear during recursive zooming. If you are unfamiliar with the Mandelbrot set, have a look at this video.

The colors are simply representing certain numbers in the complex plane. Think of it the same way as the images of space we see from the telescopes where the colors are vividly enhanced.

Since the Mandelbrot set and its friends were visually appealing and mathematically interesting, it also became popular among young computer enthusiasts in the early days. I coded my first fractal in the early nineties using assembly language and later made a Java version of the Julia set:

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## 9 comments

MandusHad a look at the Julia-applet, and it ran in 250 fps on my computer. 10 years and a lot of MHz later. :)

ReineHehe, I get approx 170 fps here. Maybe it’s time to code a fullscreen version in 3D? :)

MandusSoooo… my computer is better than yours. Wop wop!

ReineEnjoy it while it lasts. :)

bollmanOn my spanking new MacBook Air 11″ I get about 150fps but on my Mac Pro I only get about 80. Something is rotten in the state of Java…

Mandus290 now, my computer is evolving! \o/

bollmanWell, now Google Labs has made good use of Google Maps ;)

http://juliamap.googlelabs.com

ReineBrilliant! I wonder if we can use “get directions” to find the way to a particular set of numbers?

bollmanNote: it works on iPhone/iPad.

On an iPad, max 1 million FLOPs

On an iPhone 3Gs, slightly less ;)

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