Interesting Facts about Mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot

Search engine giant Google celebrates the 96th birthday of Polish-born, French and American mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, known as the “father of fractal geometry”, with an animated Doodle on November 20, 2020.

Benoit Mandelbrot Google celebrates the 96th birthday of American French Polish mathematician known as father of fractal geometry with animated Doodle
Google Doodle on Benoit Mandelbrot’s 96th Birthday

Here’s a look at the life and work of mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot.


  • Birthdate: 20 November 1924
  • Birthplace: Warsaw, Poland
  • Died on: 14 October 2010 (aged 85)
  • Death place: Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • Spouse(s): Aliette Kagan
  • Sun Sign: Scorpio
  • Nationality: American, Polish, French
  • Famous As: mathematician and polymath
  • Known for:
    • Mandelbrot set
    • Chaos theory
    • Fractals
    • Zipf–Mandelbrot law
  • Education:
    • École Polytechnique
    • California Institute of Technology
    • University of Paris
  • Notable awards:
    • Légion d’honneur (Chevalier 1990 · Officier 2006)
    • Japan Prize (2003 )
    • Wolf Prize (1993)
    • Harvey Prize (1989)
    • Franklin Medal (1986)
    • Barnard Medal (1985)

Interesting Facts about Benoit Mandelbrot

  • Benoit Mandelbrot was a Polish-French-American mathematician with wide interests in the practical sciences, particularly seeing what he named as “the art of roughness” of physical phenomena and “the uncontrolled element in life”.
  • Benoit Mandelbrot referred to himself as a “fractalist” and is perceived for his contribution to the field of fractal geometry, which included coining the word “fractal”, as well as building up a theory of “roughness and self-similarity” in nature.
  • Notwithstanding authoring the term “fractal” to portray objects and surfaces which are unpredictable at different dimensions of scale, he likewise presented such ideas as “fractal dimensions” and the specific fractal known as the Mandelbrot set, frequently represented with the mathematical formula z → z2 + c.
  • Benoit Mandelbrot is perceived for his contribution to the field of fractal geometry, which included instituting “fractal'”, as well as building up a theory of “roughness and self-similarity” in nature.
  • In 1936, while Benoit Mandelbrot was a child, Mandelbrot’s family relocated to France.
  • By the next year, Benoit Mandelbrot had entered a Lycée, or French secondary school (yet two years belatedly), and his uncle had become a professor at the Collège de France, taking over the post once held by Hadamard.
  • After the liberation of Paris in 1944, he had the option to take entrance exams for both Ecole Normale Supérieure (Rue d’Ulm) and Ecole Polytechnique.
  • After graduating from École Polytechnique in 1947, Benoit Mandelbrot went through two years in the U.S., studying aeronautics at the California Institute of Technology.
  • After World War II finished, Benoit Mandelbrot studied mathematics, graduating from universities in Paris and the United States and receiving a master’s degree in aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology.
  • From 1951 onward, Mandelbrot worked on issues and published papers in mathematics as well as in applied fields, for example, information theory, economics, and fluid dynamics.
  • Benoit Mandelbrot at that point got back to France where he went through a year satisfying a mandatory stint in the air force before finishing his Ph.D. in Mathematical Sciences at the University of Paris in 1952.
  • He spent the greater part of his career in both the United States and France, having double French and American citizenship.
  • From 1949 to 1958, Benoit Mandelbrot was a staff member at the French Center National de la Recherche Scientifique (French National Center for Scientific Research). During this time he went through a year at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, where he was sponsored by John von Neumann.
  • In 1955, Benoit Mandelbrot wedded Aliette Kagan and moved to Geneva, Switzerland (to work together with Jean Piaget at the International Center for Genetic Epistemology) and later to the Université Lille Nord de France.
  • In 1958, Benoit Mandelbrot started a 35-year career at IBM, where he became an IBM Fellow, and intermittently took leaves of nonattendance to teach at Harvard University.
  • At Harvard, following the publication of his investigation of US commodity markets comparable to cotton futures, he taught economics and applied sciences.
  • Benoit Mandelbrot left IBM in 1987, following 35 years and 12 days when IBM decided to end pure research in his division.
  • He joined the Department of Mathematics at Yale, and got his first tenured post in 1999, at 75 years old.
  • Benoit Mandelbrot was likewise a Sterling Professor of Mathematical Sciences Emeritus with Yale University. At the time of his retirement in 2005, he was Sterling Professor of Mathematical Sciences.
  • In 1961, while working in economics, Mandelbrot traveled to Harvard to give a discussion on income distribution.
  • Mandelbrot got back and directed his attention toward examining cotton costs. Using records going back to 1900, he started to see an amazing pattern – one that noticed back to his work on-line noise a decade sooner.
  • By the late 1960s, Benoit Mandelbrot’s attention was attracted to the work of aged English Nilologist Harold Edwin Hurst, who had spent incalculable years analyzing records of the ascent and fall of the Nile River.
  • In 1980, in light of his access to IBM’s PCs, Benoit Mandelbrot was one of the first to use computer graphics to make and display fractal geometric pictures, prompting his revelation of the Mandelbrot set.
  • As a visiting professor at Harvard University, Benoit Mandelbrot started to study fractals called Julia sets that were invariant under specific changes of the complex plane. Expanding on past work by Gaston Julia and Pierre Fatou, Mandelbrot used a computer to plot pictures of the Julia sets. While researching the topology of these Julia sets, he studied the Mandelbrot set which was presented by him in 1979.
  • Benoit Mandelbrot’s most popular publications incorporate Les Objets Fractals (1975) and The Fractal Geometry of Nature (1982), both translated into a few languages. Mandelbrot signifies “almond bread” in German.
  • The Fractal Geometry of Nature book started a broad popular interest in fractals and added to chaos theory and different fields of science and mathematics.
  • Benoit Mandelbrot additionally set his plans to work in cosmology. He offered in 1974 a new clarification of Olbers’ paradox (the “dark night sky” riddle), showing the results of fractal theory as an adequate, however unnecessary, resolution of the paradox.
  • He postulated that if the stars in the universe were fractally distributed (for instance, similar to Cantor dust), it would not be important to depend on the Big Bang theory to clarify the paradox. His model would not preclude a Big Bang, yet would consider a dark sky regardless of whether the Big Bang had not happened.
  • Benoit Mandelbrot’s awards incorporate the Wolf Prize for Physics in 1993, the Lewis Fry Richardson Prize of the European Geophysical Society in 2000, the Japan Prize in 2003, and the Einstein Lectureship of the American Mathematical Society in 2006.
  • The small asteroid 27500 Mandelbrot was named in his honor.
  • In November 1990, Benoit Mandelbrot was made a Chevalier in France’s Legion of Honor.
  • In December 2005, Mandelbrot was delegated to the position of Battelle Fellow at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
  • Benoit Mandelbrot was elevated to an Officer of the Legion of Honor in January 2006.
  • An honorary degree from Johns Hopkins University was offered on Mandelbrot in the May 2010 commencement activities.
  • Benoit Mandelbrot passed on from pancreatic cancer at 85 years old in a hospice in Cambridge, Massachusetts on 14 October 2010.
  • Mandelbrot’s eulogy in The Economist calls attention to his notoriety as a “celebrity beyond the academy” and praises him as the “father of fractal geometry”.
  • Best-selling writer Nassim Nicholas Taleb has commented that Benoit Mandelbrot’s book The (Mis)Behavior of Markets.
  • On 20 November 2020, Google observed Benoit Mandelbrot’s 96 Birthday with a Google animated Doodle.

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