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FractalGeometry

FractalGeometry
YaleUniversity
MichaelFrame,BenoitMandelbrot(19242010),andNialNeger
June2,2016

AnEscheresquefractalbyPeterRaedschelders.
"Ifindtheideasinthefractals,bothasabodyofknowledgeandasametaphor,anincrediblyimportant
wayoflookingattheworld."VicePresidentandNobelLaureateAlGore,NewYorkTimes,Wednesday,
June21,2000,discussingsomeofthe"bigthink"questionsthatintriguehim.
Thisisacollectionofpagesmeanttosupportafirstcourseinfractalgeometryforstudentswithout
especiallystrongmathematicalpreparation,oranyparticularinterestinscience.
Eachofthetopicscontainsexamplesoffractalsinthearts,humanities,orsocialsciencestheseand
otherexamplesarecollectedinthepanorama.
Fractalgeometryisanewwayoflookingattheworldwehavebeensurroundedbynaturalpatterns,
unsuspectedbuteasilyrecognizedafteronlyanhour'straining.
1.IntroductiontoFractalsandIFSisanintroductiontosomebasicgeometryoffractalsets,with
emphasisontheIteratedFunctionSystem(IFS)formalismforgeneratingfractals.Inaddition,we
exploretheapplicationofIFStodetectpatterns,andalsoseveralexamplesofarchitecturalfractals.
2.NaturalFractalsandDimensionspresentsamethodofmeasuringthecomplexityoffractals.
GeneralizingthefamiliarnotionofEuclideandimension,fractaldimensioncanbecomputedfrom
experimentaldata.Thesecomputationshavedesignconsequencesinsuchareasasantennasandfiber
optics.
3.TheMandelbrotSetandJuliaSetsisremarkabledeconstructionofthenotionsofsimplicityand
complexity:asinglequadraticequationcontainsinfinitelydetailedworldsofbaroquesplendorthat
posemathematicalquestionsunansweredeventoday.Yetthealgorithmtogeneratethesepicturescan
beunderstoodbyanyonefamiliarwithbasicarithmetic.
4.CellularAutomataandFractalEvolution,orhowtobuildaworldinacomputer.Thesesimple
worldscangeneratefractals,andexhibitwonderfullycomplicateddynamics.Thebiologicalparadigm
canbeextendedtoevolvepopulationsofcomputerprograms,andweareled,perhaps,tofractalaspects
ofevolution.
5.RandomFractalsandtheStockMarketextendsthegeometricalfractalsstudiedsofartofractals
involvingsomeelementsofrandomness.Afterexamplesfrombiology,physics,andastronomy,we
applytheseideastothestockmarket.Doweuncoverusefulinformation?Waitandsee.
6.Chaosistypeofdynamicalbehaviormostcommonlycharacterizedbysensitivitytoinitial
conditions:tinychangescangrowtohugeeffects.Inevitibleuncertaintiesinourknowledgeofthe
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FractalGeometry

initialconditionsgrowtooverwhelmlongtermprediction.Yetweshallseechaoshasengineeringand
medicalapplications.
7.Multifractalsgeneralizesthenotionoffractalsasobjectstofractalsasmeasures.Wecanexaminethe
distributionofresourcesinaregion,computethedimensionofthepartswiththesameamount,andplot
dimensionasafunctionofamount.Thisgivesasinglepictureembracingtheentirerangeof
complexity.
8.FractalTreesisashortanalysisofdimensionsofseveralaspectsofmathematical(notrealistic)
fractaltrees.Yeteventhissimpleproblemhassomesurprises.
9.CircleInversionsisIteratedFunctionSystemswhentheaffinetransformationsarereplacedby
inversionsincircles.ThelossofIFSlinearitygivesrisetonewfamiliesofpictures,andtonew
mathematicalproblems.
10.PanoramaofFractalsandTheirUsesisagrowingwebdocument,acatalogueofsomeapplications
thatwehavefoundinteresting.Youareinvitedtoshareyourfavoriteswithus.
11.LaboratoryExercisesisacollectionoffieldtestedextendedhandsonactivitiesthatillustratemany
ofthetopicsonthesepages.
12.LessonPlansisacollectionoflessonplansforhighschoolandmiddleschoolclasses.
13.SoftwareisacollectionofJavaappletstostudyfractals.Inaddition,therearelimitedcollections
ofMacintoshsoftware,PCsoftware,andMathematicanotebooks.
OnthesepagesnewwindowsarespawnedbyasimpleJavaScriptprogram.Somepopupblockersdisable
thesewindows.
Commentsorquestionsshouldbedirectedtomichael.frame@yale.edu
ThismaterialisbaseduponworksupportedbytheNationalScienceFoundationunderGrantNo.
0203203.
Anyopinions,findings,andconclusionsorrecommendationsexpressedinthismaterialarethoseofthe
authorsanddonotnecessarilyreflecttheviewsoftheNationalScienceFoundation.

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