Fractals: A Mandelbrot Recipe

Gary Kennedy
Department of Mathematics
The Ohio State University

7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What is Mandelbrot?

  1. a dessert bread with almonds
  2. a French mathematician who died in October 2010
  3. a stunning mathematical fractal

The answer is that it's all three. Benoit Mandelbrot is widely celebrated for his development and popularization of fractal geometry, a subject which emerged from its roots in earlier mathematics during the last third of the 20th century. He was the first to visualize the fractal which now bears his name: the Mandelbrot set.

Although Kennedy won't show you a recipe for the dessert bread at this Science Café, he will show you one for the Mandelbrot set. He also hopes to convey some idea of what fractals are and how they have been used in designing cell phone antennas or making Pixar movies. There will be plenty of pictures!

Here is an audio recording of this science cafe in mp3 format.

Click here for the PowerPoint presentation that accompanied this event.

The spreadsheets that accompanied the presentation are also available.

The first spreadsheet, doing calculations with real numbers, is available here.

The second spreadsheet, doing calculations with complex numbers, is available here.