Benoit Mandelbrot, the father of fractal geometry, has died. He was 85.
The world is mourning the loss of the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot, who may have established a record by earning tenure at Yale in 1999, 75 years after his birth.
What took so long, given that his 1982 book The Fractal Geometry of Nature had become one of his field’s most influential works? Flying in the face of the Establishment with unconventional ideas and methods, creating what the historian and philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn called a paradigm shift, is highly esteemed in academia — until somebody actually does it.
According to the Times obituary, Mandelbrot described his own career between his prestigious early education and his ultimate university appointment as “a very crooked line,” like the irregular surfaces he studied. I’m no expert on Mandelbrot’s life or work, but it’s also worth considering that the opponents of mavericks also play a constructive part in their thinking, provoking them to better and sometimes even bolder ideas.
“Benoit Mandelbrot the Maverick, 1924-2010” (The Atlantic)
Long Live Mandelbrot (Imaginary Foundation)