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The Fractalist: Memoir of a Scientific Maverick: Benoit Mandelbrot

NNT reviews The Fractalist: Memoir of a Scientific Maverick
HatTip to Hristo Vassilev & Dave Lull

“I have never done anything like others”, Mandelbrot once said. And indeed these memoirs show it. He really managed to do everything on his own terms. Everything. It was not easy for him, but he end up doing it as he wanted it.

Consider his huge insight about the world around us. “Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line”, wrote Benoit Mandelbrot, contradicting more than 2000 years of misconceptions. Triangles, squares, and circles seem to exist in our textbooks more than reality—and we didn’t notice it. Thus was born fractal geometry, a general theory of “roughness”. Mandelbrot uncovered simple rules used by nature and men that, thanks to repetition, by smaller parts that resemble the whole, generate these seemingly complex and chaotic patterns.

Self-taught and fiercely independent, he thought in images and passed the entrance exam of the top school of mathematics without solving equations; he was both precocious and a late bloomer producing the famous “Mandelbrot set” when he was in his fifties and got tenure at Yale when he was 75. Older mathematicians have resisted his geometric and intuitive method—but the top prize in mathematics was recently given for solving one of his sub-conjectures…

via The Fractalist: Memoir of a Scientific Maverick: Benoit Mandelbrot: 9780307377357: Books.

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