Albion College

Mathematics and Computer Science

Mathematics and Computer Science

COLLOQUIUM

Fractals: Modeling Nature with Beauty

Holly Williams, `12

Fractals bridge the connection between mathematics and art as we know it. Fractals
can be mathematically represented as a set of numbers with complex ratios but, more
importantly, fractals can be characterized by their "self similar" tendency. When a fractal
image is zoomed in, the new zoomed view looks very similar to the original picture.
Examples of self similar, fractal like objects in nature are abundant and include trees,
mountains, and veins. Benoit Mandelbrot coined the term "fractal" and realized the
importance of this newfound mathematics branch in the 1950's. Despite Mandelbrot's
important realization, members of the mathematical community had a hard time accepting
Mandelbrot's work. Math was supposed use the language of math, which according to
Galileo was triangles, not fractals. But, after much who-ha, Mandelbrot's work was finally
accepted. Mandelbrot's famous set has inspired many works of art, and changed the
computer graphics industry forever.