Benoit Mandelbrot, was born in Warsaw on November 20, 1924, moved to Paris in 1936 and eventually earned his master’s degree from Caltech.
In 1958, he began working at IBM and had a long association with its Watson Research Center. He used their newly developed computers to create “fractal images”. These unique images, of irregular shapes and sizes are likened to psychedelic art, with a touch of nature as well as the human body. His formula was called the Mandelbrot set. He has rightly been called “The Father of Fractal Geometry.”
The next time you see an irregular or psychedelic shape on T-shirts, on albums or posters, it might just be an image created by his algorithms. His theory also inspired a famous book, “The Colors of Infinity: The Beauty and the Sense of Fractals” by Arthur C. Clarke. It also was the inspiration for the song, Mandelbrot Set by Jonathan Coulton.
“Why is geometry often described as ‘cold’ and ‘dry’? One reason lies in its inability to describe the shape of a cloud, a mountain, a coastline or a tree. Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lighting travel in a straight line,” he wrote in his seminal book “The Fractal Geometry of Nature.” This book was published in 1982.
He won many accolades, awards and prizes including the Wolf Prize for Physics in 1993. In 2000 a small asteroid, 27500 Mandelbrot, was named after him. He died in 2010.