Mandelbrot, The Father of Fractals

Benoit B. Mandelbrot: Mathematician, IBM Fellow Emeritus and Fractal Pioneer.

In this interview shot by filmmaker Errol Morris, Mandelbrot shares his love for mathematics and how it led him to his wondrous discovery of fractals. His work lives on today in many innovations in science, design, telecommunications, medicine, renewable energy, film (special effects), gaming (computer graphics) and more.

Mandelbrot Set

What is a fractal?

Just one of the main building blocks of the universe. Known as ‘God’s thumbprint,’ these simple math formulas reveal the intricate recursive patterns found within nature, yet still remain one of science’s best-kept secrets. What is the story behind these wonderful patterns?

“A fractal is a way of seeing infinity.” —Benoit B. Mandelbrot

Mandelbrot Set images are made by sampling complex numbers and determining for each whether the result tends towards infinity when a particular mathematical operation is iterated on it. Treating the real and imaginary parts of each number as image coordinates, pixels are colored according to how rapidly the sequence diverges, if at all.

The Mandelbrot Set is closely related to the idea of Julia sets, which produce similarly complex shapes. Its definition and name are due to Adrien Douady, in tribute to the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot.

Learn more about fractals at


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