Chaos
and Fractals

The Mandelbrot Set

Fractals

In his book, *Fractals: Images of Chaos*, Hans Lauwerier defines a *fractal*
as “a geometrical figure that consists of an identical motif repeating itself
on an ever-reduced scale” (Lauwerier 1).
This simple process (called *iteration*) exhibits very complicated
behaviour. The process is a kind of *feedback*
and produces what in science is called *a dynamic law*.

For an example, take the following link to a website that gives an animated illustration of the “Koch Curve,” which is formed as follows: a line is divided into three equal parts, on the middle third an equilateral triangle is drawn whose base is removed. If you choose the sides of an equilateral triangle as starting line, in the limit you get the von Koch snowflake curve. Further “demo movies” can be found here.

This curve was constructed by the swedish mathematician Helge von Koch (1870 - 1924) as an example of a continuous curve in the plane without a tangent at every point. The same curve is also an example of a nowhere differentiable continuous function.

It is important, when talking about fractals, to understand the dynamic processes that create them. Fundamental to the understanding of a fractal is the process of iteration. In order to grasp this we must understand the principle of feedback.

Feedback

The process
of feedback functions as an *iterator*.
The same operation is carried out repeatedly, the output of one
iteration being the input of for the next one.
Imagine a video camera aimed at the images it produces on a television
monitor but twisted slightly so that you get a constantly shifting image. In order to get a simple intuitive sense of
fractal geometry you can extend this process of feedback by imagining a copy
machine equipped with an image reduction facility. The image is simultaneously reduced and multiplied with every
iteration. The standard example is the Sierpinski
Gasket.

Self Similarity

One
of the defining properties of fractals is built in “self-similarity.” A figure is self similar when parts of it
contain small replicas of the whole.
Every part of a *strictly* self-similar structure contains an exact
replica of the whole. The most famous
example of *fractal* geometry is the Mandelbrot Set (M-Set). Benoit Mandelbrot coined the word *Fractal*. You can witness some of the extraordinary
properties of the M-Set at this
site.

Other
M-Set sites follow:

Another
Introduction to the Mandelbrot Set

The
following sites will provide more in depth analysis of fractals as well as
fascinating applications in the arts.
All are warmly recommendable.

Earl
Hinrich’s Art some very nice things are here

The “Thinks.Com” Webguide to
Fractal Art

Breugel’s
Adoration of
the Kings

The Website
of JWP

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