Benoit Mandelbrot and the roughness of life.

There is so much about the lives of humans that is astoundingly beautiful.

Before I get started on this article, a few words about the Blog in general.  In recent times, the readership of Learning from Dogs has increased, frankly, to quite amazing levels.  Not really sure why but grateful, nonetheless.

Readers will recognize that articles written specifically about dogs are in the minority.  Even using dogs as a metaphor would still limit what could be published.  But as is written elsewhere on the Blog, ‘The underlying theme of Learning from Dogs is about truth, integrity, honesty and trust in every way.’  Dogs are integrous creatures; that’s all the example required.

We are at a point in the history of man where truth, integrity, honesty and trust are critically important (they have always been important but the economic and ecological pressures bearing down on us all make these values critical to mankind’s survival).  Thus the aspiration of Learning from Dogs is to offer insights on truth from as many perspectives as possible – and to make your experience as a reader sufficiently enjoyable that you will wish to return!

OK!  On to the topic for today!

There are many aspects of the world in which we live that are mysterious beyond our imagination.  Take the circle.  Practically everyone is aware that to calculate either the area or the circumference of a circle one needs to use a mathematical constant π or ‘pi’.  As a mathematician would put it,  π (sometimes written pi) is a mathematical constant whose value is the ratio of any circle’s circumference to its diameter; this is the same value as the ratio of a circle’s area to the square of its radius. π is approximately equal to 3.14159.

Note the word ‘approximately’!  Now read this,

( — A computer scientist in France has broken all previous records for calculating Pi, using only a personal computer. The previous record was approximately 2.6 trillion digits, but the new record, set by Fabrice Bellard, now stands at almost 2.7 trillion decimal places.

Bellard, of Paris Telecom Tech, made and checked the calculation by running his own software algorithms for 131 days. The previous record calculation, set by Daisuke Takahashi at the University of Tsukuba in Japan in August 2009, took only 29 hours to complete, but used a super-computer costing millions of dollars, and running 2000 times faster than Bellard’s PC.

Full article is here.

Apart from the wonderful aspect of the need of a human being to go on determining the n’th value of π there is a deeper and more beautiful aspect (well to me there is!) and that is the acknowledgement that something as simple as, say, that round coin in your hand is an expression of the infinite.

Now to Benoit Mandelbrot, who died a little over six months ago, but in his lifetime also explored the wonder and magic of the infinite.

Here’s a video of Mandelbrot recorded in February 2010 in what would be his last year of his life on earth.

If you found that video fascinating then try this series of six videos presented by the one and only Arthur C. Clarke.

Benoit Mandelbrot died on the 14th October, 2010, a little over a month before his eighty-sixth birthday (born 20th November, 1924).  Here’s a nice tribute from the The New York Times.

Tomorrow, some more insights into the mysterious beauty of fractals.

Benoit Mandelbrot

Amazing man!

2 thoughts on “Benoit Mandelbrot and the roughness of life.

  1. Benoit Mandelbrot wrote that bubbles and crashes were “the inevitable consequence of the human need to find patterns in the patternless”. One is left with the question of whether our financial regulators are not supposed to know that sort of stuff when they regulate. At least I always complained how the regulators were developing their own dangerous patterns… the… “just follow the AAAs.”


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