Benoit Mandelbrot

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    Yale University | T.J. Watson Research Center, IBM

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    For the creation of the field of fractal geometry.

Benoit Mandelbrot is the creator of fractal geometry. Dr. Mandelbrot was born in 1924 in Warsaw, Poland, and his family emigrated to Paris, France in 1936. His uncle, who was Professor of Mathematics at the College de France, took responsibility for his early education, and he later began his advanced studies at Ecole Polytechnique in 1944. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Paris, and then spent some time following that at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

Dr. Mandelbrot took a position as an IBM Fellow at the Watson Research Center because it offered freedom to pursue his research. While there, he developed his work on fractals, which are shapes or behaviors that have similar properties at all levels of magnification or across all times. In 1967, Dr. Mandelbrot published a seminal article in Science magazine, "How long is the coast of Britain?," explaining that the concept of length was meaningless when trying to describe something like a natural coastline; that length is dependent on one's choice of measuring device. This work became a milestone in science and mathematics, and his work spawned tremendous new fields of study.

Information as of 1986