Mandelbrot’s The Fractalist, Chapter 28: Has My Work Founded the First-Ever Broad Theory of Roughness?

With two chapters left to go, Mandelbrot’s reflections on his life and accomplishments make every passage notable. Picking ‘Best Quotes’ feels like an affront to the pearls of wisdom dispensed but not chosen.

Best Quote(s)

“An important turn in my life occurred when I realized that something I had long been stating in footnotes should be put on the marquee.”

Benoit Mandelbrot, The Fractalist, Chapter 28 (Location 4278)

Mandelbrot didn’t set out to study roughness; he instead found a series of problems across seemingly unconnected fields that focused his mathematical skills on an area that was universally present, but not always acknowledged.

“Before my work on roughness, it was either undefined or measured by too many irrelevant quantities. Now it can be measured by one, two, or a few numbers.”

Benoit Mandelbrot, The Fractalist, Chapter 28 (Location 4289)

I’m reading John Urschel’s Mind and Matter with my son; Urschel played in the NFL and afterwards completed a PhD in math at MIT. At times his statements of fact seem boastful, but they are true. How wonderful a statement from Mandelbrot! Is he boasting? Perhaps, but how could he state the truth and not be boastful.

Mandelbrot’s Keplerian dream inspired him to organize a theory of roughness from work across many fields and make a great contribution in mankind’s understanding of the world around us.

Page by Page, Screen by Screen, Swipe by Swipe – 8 Mandelbrot Quotes

4278

“HOW CAN IT BE that the same technique applies to the Internet, the weather, and the stock market? Why, without particularly trying, am I touching so many different aspects of so many different things?”

“An important turn in my life occurred when I realized that something I had long been stating in footnotes should be put on the marquee.”

“Roughness is just as important as all those other raw sensations, but was not studied for its own sake.”

4285

“I reinterpreted one as the first of many quantitative measurements of roughness.”

4289

“Before my work on roughness, it was either undefined or measured by too many irrelevant quantities. Now it can be measured by one, two, or a few numbers.”

4320

“Visually examining the Brownian island’s coastline led me to conjecture that its fractal dimension is 4/ 3.”

4341

My Work Reaches a New Audience

4346

“You might have lived shortly after Newton.”

“Uncanny forms of flattery! Each lifted me to seventh heaven! Truly and deeply, each marked a very sweet day! Let me put it more strongly: occasions like that make my life.”

Mandelbrot’s note about his sincere appreciation of the notes he has received over the years follows Carnegie’s guidance to give sincere appreciation.

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