Studying complex dynamics in the 1970s, Benoit Mandelbrot had a key insight about a particular set of mathematical objects: that these self-similar structures with infinitely repeating complexities were not just curiosities, as they’d been considered since the turn of the century, but were in fact a key to explaining non-smooth objects and complex data sets. Mandelbrot coined the term “fractal” to describe these objects, and set about sharing his insight with the world.
At TED2010, Benoit Mandelbrot develops a theme he first discussed at TED in 1984 — the extreme complexity of roughness, and the way that fractal math can find order within patterns that seem unknowably complicated.
Dr. Keith Critchlow, Founder, Director of Research and Professor Emeritus at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts talks about geometric patterns and how he used them in the design of the Cambridge Mosque.
You can’t understand climate change in pieces, says climate scientist Gavin Schmidt. It’s the whole, or it’s nothing. In this illuminating talk, he explains how he studies the big picture of climate change with mesmerizing models that illustrate the endlessly complex interactions of small-scale environmental events.
As a physicist, Max Tegmark sees people as “food, rearranged.” That makes his answer to complicated questions like “What is consciousness?” simple: It’s just math. Why? Because it’s the patterns, not the particles, that matter.
“I am a mathematician, and I would like to stand on your roof.” That is how Ron Eglash greeted many African families he met while researching the fractal patterns he’d noticed in villages across the continent.
Ron Eglash is an ethno-mathematician: he studies the way math and cultures intersect. He has shown that many aspects of African design — in architecture, art, even hair braiding — are based on perfect fractal patterns.
Get the Full Experience
Read the rest of this article, and view all articles in full from just £10 for 3 months.