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Tribute to Benoit Mandelbrot

Posted by Harry Seldon on October 18, 2010

Benoit Mandelbrot is, imho, the biggest genius of the XXth century and our time. His work has already technologically changed our world (CGI, cell phone antennas, processors shapes, unerstanding stock market krachs, etc.). But the day, the philosophy, the epistemology, behind his work is understood, the day, the “language of nature” that Mandelbrot taught us, is understood, this day, the world will be a lot more peaceful.

Back in February 2009, I wrote that the celebrity I would love most to meet was Benoit Mandelbrot. I could partially fullfill that dream almost exactly one year ago (on the Sunday 24th of October 2009). While he was in Paris to present the amazing movie Fractals: Hunting the hidden dimension I got the privilege to talk to Benoit Mandelbrot on the phone. I have never posted about that because the talk was quite personal but I guess I will someday. For now, I can say for sure that Benoit Mandelbrot was a great man with an amazing kindness and a very nice sense of humor. He was so kind to tell me to call him after I sent him an email. And on the phone, when I asked him why he was not giving more conferences, he answered me : “you know, I am old, most people think I am already dead.”

Well before that encounter I grew up reading Mandelbrot’s books, among them “The Fractal Geometry of Nature”. Prof. Mandelbrot, I already miss you.

About memories, here is a best of the posts I wrote about fractals, Benoit Mandelbrot, chaos and controls. The first article was a short portrait of Mandelbrot where I campaigned for him to have the Nobel Prize in ALL categories : economy, physics, medecine (biology), chemistry, and even litterature and peace.

If you wish to pay a tribute to Benoit Mandelbrot, please, feel free to do so in the comments.

tree_snow_battle
Children making a snow battle under a magnificient fractal tree.

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  1. A symposium specific to a tribute to Benoit Mandelbrot will take place at the Ecole Polytechnique on the 17th and 18th of March 2011. Entrance is free but upon registration : [http://events.polytechnique.fr/accueil/hommage-a-benoit-mandelbrot/] Ti...
  2. A symposium specific to a tribute to Benoit Mandelbrot will take place at the Ecole Polytechnique on the 17th and 18th of March 2011. Entrance is free but upon registration : http://events.polytechnique.fr/accueil/hommage-a-benoit-mandelbrot/ Titl...

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  1. Richard Beddard on October 20, 2010 at 11:25 am

    I interviewed him about five years ago. I knew little more about fractals or Mandelbrot than what I’d hurriedly read in his book ‘The (Mis)behaviour of Markets’ and what I’d read decades before in James Gleick’s ‘Chaos’. Not being a mathematician a detailed understanding of his theories is way beyond me, but he spent nearly two hoursexplaining them and didn’t once make me feel small. It was simply the highlight of my career in journalism and I don’t think I will ever meet anyone as brilliant yet humble again. Your admiration for him is not misplaced.

  2. Harry Seldon on October 20, 2010 at 09:27 pm

    Hi Richard, I found this link about your interview. It is a very nice one indeed.

    http://www.iii.co.uk/articles/articledisplay.jsp?section=Markets&article_id=33361

    Any other one ?

  3. Richard Beddard on October 21, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Thanks, sadly not. What a waste! I’ve got a recording of the interview somewhere. I’ll try and dig it out.

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