So long, Benoît Mandelbrot

By | |Fun, Philosophy|

A man who sparked the imagination of many graphics programmers died recently, Benoît Mandelbrot. He coined the term fractal and showed us that simple math can create beautiful patterns of infinite complexity. You have probably seen his most famous discovery below, the Mandelbrot Set.

The Mandelbrot Set, a bug-like fractal object

Unlike most mathematicians, Mandelbrot spent much of his time outside of academia, showing the rest of us the treasures he found. He inspired a generation of graphics programmers to experiment and discover their own fractals. Below are just a few examples. For the highest quality, follow the links to YouTube and watch the 720p versions in full screen mode.

The purple Mandelbrot Set image was created with an Easter Egg in one of our products. In Snap Art, run the Stylize filter with Random Seed set to 111. For real fractal exploration there are plenty of free programs on the Web.

I’m going to listen to one of my favorite Simon & Garfunkel songs now, “So long, Frank Lloyd Wright”. I think it fits just fine.

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About the Author:

Jeff Butterworth is the founder of Alien Skin Software. He used to create the products, but now he does marketing and gets coffee for the programmers.


  1. J. F. Herrera November 18, 2010 at 12:45 am

    It is amazing to imagine that all this comes from mathematics. Much of what we see in the movies these days would not be possible if Mandelbrot’s dedication and hard work.

    • Jeff November 18, 2010 at 7:46 am

      I think my first exposure to fractals was in Martin Gardner’s Mathematical Games column in Scientific American. I was enthralled with the complex pictures that simple operations could generate. That reminds me, Martin Gardner is another giant in popular mathematics who died recently. He created more fun articles, puzzles, and games than I can explore in my lifetime. If you know a young person who enjoys puzzles then give them a Martin Gardner book. I feel an browsing session coming on…

  2. Me November 21, 2010 at 4:50 am

    The now near abandonware FraxFlame was an inspiring meld of beauty and toy. Prior to that was a littany of freeware fractal zooming and rendering applications.. oh to have had a six core i7

    maybe alien skin could be inspired to create a fractal screensaver app for boxee box 😉

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