Institute of Life Long Learning
Mathematical Awareness
A Concurrent Course For B.A. (Hons)
FRACTALS IN NATURE
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What is a Fractal
Suppose, one needs to measure the coastline of India. It can be measured with mile-long rulers and get a certain measurement. What if the rulers are replaced with foot-long rulers? Which measurement would give you a larger measurement.
are further replaced with an inch-long ruler? You could really get into the teeniest and
coastline? You could measure it with shorter and shorter rulers, and the

The question of measuring a coastline was first raised in 1967 by Benoit
Mandelbrot, the Polish-born French mathematician. There are numerous examples in
nature where the repetitive behaviour of the curve (as in the coastline) could be seen.
For instance, see below the picture of a broccoli : If you look a small part of the
broccoli, you would notice that the shape is similar (if not identical) to the whole of it.
This is also an example of a fractal. Such

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- Fall '09
- Math, Fractal, Koch, Koch curve, snowflake curve