Mandelbrot, father of fractal geometry, dies

16th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Benoit Mandelbrot, a French-American mathematician who explored a new class of mathematical shapes known as "fractals," has died at age 85 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the New York Times reported Saturday.

His wife Aliette told the newspaper he died of pancreatic cancer at a hospice.

His seminal book, "The Fractal Geometry of Nature," published in 1982, argued that irregular mathematical objects once dismissed as "pathological" were a reflection of nature.

The fractal geometry he developed would be used to measure natural phenomena like clouds or coastlines that once were believed to be unmeasurable.

He applied the theory to physics, biology, finance and many other fields.

"Applied mathematics had been concentrating for a century on phenomena which were smooth, but many things were not like that: the more you blew them up with a microscope the more complexity you found," the Times quoted David Mumford, a professor of mathematics at Brown University, as saying.

"He was one of the primary people who realized these were legitimate objects of study," Mumford said.

A professor emeritus at Yale University, Mandelbrot was born in Poland but as a child moved with his family to France where he was educated.

© 2010 AFP

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