A ThinkQuest project by David Green, Alex Kulesza, and Keith Bergstresser
Welcome to The Fractory! This page will help you learn about fractals: what they are and how to design them, but it will also let you discover more on your own. Fractals are just now emerging as a science. They show an order in seemingly random things, and give us tools with which we can predict the weather, render natural looking objects, and help understand the order in our chaotic lives. You will also play a part in our interactive fractal creation center, designing and displaying fractals you have invented. You can even post your coolest fractals on our fractal message board.

# How to Understand Fractals

Fractals can be understood on many different levels. We have separated the information on this page into the five levels listed below in increasing order of difficulty. We suggest that you start at the first one, and work your way up. You may be surprised at how far you are able to get. You are encouraged to continue as long as you are interested, but each level requires more math and more time than the previous, so you can decide what is reasonable for you.

1.The first way in which anyone can appreciate fractals is simply for their beauty. To do this, we suggest that you go to our Fractal Gallery. Take some time to look at fractals, and notice the detail that goes on forever. No finite number of pixels can do them justice. Also try out our Make-Your-Own Fractals page, and draw some of your own. You may also want to download Fractint or another fractal generating program.

2.The next thing you should understand about fractals is their use, and why they are worth exploring. To start, you can read the following pages: Fractals and Chaos and Uses of Fractals. Try to get a feel for why fractals are more than just pretty pictures.

3.The next thing to learn is, very basically, how are fractals generated? At this level, we are not going to get into the complex math, we will just describe the simple process used to create the pictures you have seen on this page. Read the first part of How Fractals are Generated to understand this.

4.Now, this is where math comes in. To understand this, we recommend that you have read the first part of How Fractals are Generated, and that you have at least taken Algebra I and are comfortable with math. In this level we simply learn the math behind the techniques shown in level 3. You can find this information on this in the second part of How Fractals Are Generated.

5.If you've gotten this far, great! Now you have many options. Probably the best thing to do is to continue exploring fractals. If you are a programmer, try writing some programs to generate fractals using the equations from level 4. Post messages on our message boards if you have questions (or answers), and try some references from our Links and References page. Mostly, if fractals interest you, keep exploring them and learn as much as you can. Fractals are a relatively new branch of mathematics, so there is much more in them to be discovered. Have fun!
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