Benoit Mandelbrot was born in Poland in 1924. When he was twelve, he and
his family emigrated to France. Benoit's uncle, Szolem Mandelbrot, then took full
responsiblity for Benoit's education.
Benoit attended the Lyce Rolin in Paris, as well as the California Institute
of Technology in the United States. He then worked at the Centre National de la
Recherche Scientific from 1949 to1957.
At the age of 21, Benoit's uncle Szolem Mandelbrot showed Benoit the scientist
Gaston Maurice Julia's important 1918 paper as a masterpiece and a potential
source for his nephew's future scientific work. Mandelbrot, however, decided not to
use the papers. Instead, he chose his own path which eventually brought him right
back to Julia's paper in 1977 after going through many different fields of science.
With the aid of computer graphics, Mandelbrot, who now works at IBM's
Watson Research Center, was able to show how Julia's work is a source of some
of the most beautiful fractals known today. The Mandelbrot set is a connected set
of points in the complex plain. Pick a point Z in the complex plane.
Z = Z + Z
Z = Z + Z
Z = Z + Z
If the sequence Z, Z, Z, Z,....remains within a distance of 2 of the orgin forever, then
the point Z is said to be in the Mandelbrot set. If the sequence diverges from the
orgin, then the point is included in the set. Benoit's work was first put forward in his book
"Les objets fractals, forn, hasard et dimension", and then more fully in his second book
"The Fractal Geometry of Nature".
Besides working at IBM, Mandelbrot is now the Professor of the Practice of
Mathematics at Harvard University. In 1985, Mandelbrot was awarded the Barnard
Medal for Meritorious Service to Science. The following year he received the
Franklin Medal. Two years later he was honored with the Alexander von Humboldt
Prize. He then received the Steinmetz Medal in 1988 and many more awards including the
Nevada Medal in 1991.
If you would like to download a picture of the Mandelbrot Set, please go to our