Today marks the 6th anniversary of the death of Benoit Mandelbrot.

Mandelbrot was the mathematician who discovered/invented fractals. Fractals provide us with lots of pretty images, but, in addition, he applied fractal mathematics to cartography (arguably the origin of the thoughts that led to the develpment of fractals, in the first place), economics, population studies, and many other fields. We all are better for his having been among us for a time.


When I was a research librarian for IBM, I worked in the T. J. Watson research center, Mandelbrot came to the library nearly every day. As a semi-retired researcher emeritus, he was a voracious reader, often requesting disparate sources at the same time. He would request an old volume of Applied Physics Letters at the same time he was reading some IEEE journal’s newest issue. The connections he made were sometimes astounding. Just listening to him talk with other researchers, you could almost see the wheels spinning in his head, while the others conversing with him just had their heads spinning. Amazing.

To this day, I continue to play with fractals, and I remember him fondly. Please take a moment of self-similar recursive introspection today to remember the man who made images like these possible. There are approximately 3.5 bazillion, but here are two. I left out the standard “Mandelbrot Set” because I’m betting you’ve all seen that one. Have a great weekend, O’deckers!