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Definition: Mandelbrot from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary

Benoit B. Mandelbrot 1924–2010 Am. (Pol.-born) math. & scientist

Summary Article: Mandelbrot, Benoît B (1924-2010) from The Hutchinson Dictionary of Scientific Biography

Place: United States of America

Subject: biography, maths and statistics

Polish-born French mathematician who coined the term ‘fractal’ to describe geometrical figures in which an identical motif repeats itself on an ever-diminishing scale. The concept is associated with chaos theory. Another way of describing a fractal is as a curve or surface generated by the repeated subdivision of a mathematical pattern.

He was born in Warsaw, Poland, on 20 November 1924, and was educated at the École Polytechnique, Paris, graduating in 1947. He went on to the California Institute of Technology, receiving an MS in 1948, and returned to Paris where he was awarded his PhD from the Sorbonne in 1952. Between 1949 and 1957 he was a staff member at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, during which time he spent a year at the Institute of Advanced Study, New Jersey 1953-54 and two years at the University of Geneva as assistant professor of mathematics 1955-57. Mandelbrot then went as junior professor of applied mathematics to Lille University and of mathematical analysis at the Ecole Polytechnique, Paris. In 1958 he was appointed a research staff member at the IBM Thomas J Watson Research Centre in New York and was made an IBM fellow in 1974. In 1987 he became the Abraham Robinson Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Yale University, New Haven, and became Sterling Professor of Mathematical Sciences, Emeritus, at Yale in 2005.

Mandelbrot's research provided mathematical theories for erratic chance phenomena and self-similarity methods in probability. He also carried out research on sporadic processes, thermodynamics, natural languages, astronomy, geomorphology, computer art and graphics, fractals, and the fractal geometry of nature. His books include Logique, langage et théorie de l'information (1957; with L Apostel and A Morf), Fractals: Form, Chance, and Dimension (1977), and The Fractal Geometry of Nature (1982); and, with Richard L Hudson, The (Mis)Behavior of Markets (2004). He also published numerous scientific papers, and was on the editorial boards of several journals. For his research, Mandelbrot received honorary degrees from several universities and numerous awards and medals, including that of Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1989.

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