The Fractalist by Benoit Mandelbrot
Memoir of a Scientific Maverick

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"The Fractalist" is a well-written tale of a scientific life.
-WSJ online


A fascinating memoir from the man who revitalized visual geometry, and whose ideas about fractals have changed how we look at both the natural world and the financial world.

Benoit Mandelbrot, the creator of fractal geometry, has significantly improved our understanding of, among other things, financial variability and erratic physical phenomena. In The Fractalist, Mandelbrot recounts the high points of his life with exuberance and an eloquent fluency, deepening our understanding of the evolution of his extraordinary mind. We begin with his early years: born in Warsaw in 1924 to a Lithuanian Jewish family, Mandelbrot moved with his family to Paris in the 1930s, where he was mentored by an eminent mathematician uncle. During World War II, as he stayed barely one step ahead of the Nazis until France was liberated, he studied geometry on his own and dreamed of using it to solve fresh, real-world problems. We observe his unusually broad education in Europe, and later at Caltech, Princeton, and MIT. We learn about his thirty-five-year affiliation with IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center and his association with Harvard and Yale. An outsider to mainstream scientific research, he managed to do what others had thought impossible: develop a new geometry that combines revelatory beauty with a radical way of unfolding formerly hidden laws governing utter roughness, turbulence, and chaos.

Here is a remarkable story of both the man’s life and his unparalleled contributions to science, mathematics, and the arts.


About Benoit Mandelbrot

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A graduate of the École Polytechnique, Benoit Mandelbrot obtained his doctorate from the University of Paris and spent more than thirty-five years at IBM as a research scientist. Best known as the father of fractal geometry, he transformed our understanding of information theory, economics, fluid turbulence, nonlinear dynamics, and geophysics. He died on October 14, 2010.
Published October 30, 2012 by Vintage. 352 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Science & Math, Professional & Technical, History. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Fractalist
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on Oct 30 2012

His memoir has a distant quality, a vagueness and rigidity that perhaps came with age. Few of this book’s milieus are evoked with any kind of liveliness or precision.

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WSJ online

Reviewed by Stephen Wolfram on Nov 28 2012

"The Fractalist" is a well-written tale of a scientific life.

Read Full Review of The Fractalist: Memoir of a S... | See more reviews from WSJ online

NY Journal of Books

Reviewed by Robert Schaefer on Oct 30 2012

The word fractal is now as familiar to the American psyche as quantum leap, turbo-charged, and gluten-free...If you love fractals, you will love this memoir.

Read Full Review of The Fractalist: Memoir of a S... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

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