a sad day

I don’t really do heroes.

But occasionally, I make exceptions.  And today, one of my heroes has died.

Mandelbrot was a man who found beauty in unexpected places and found ways to reveal it so many others.  May he rest in peace.

I’ve blogged about Mandelbrot once before.  For more gushy enthusiasm towards about the wonder of Mandelbrot,  do have a look at what I said then.

4 thoughts on “a sad day

  1. Agreed, a sad loss indeed. End of an era for those of us that grew up with fractals and trying to get our fancy graphing calculators to draw Mandelbrot sets…

    One tid-bit, that doesn’t often seem to be noted, mind: a lot of his research was away from mean & standard-deviation as a way of doing statistics on various quantities, to using power-laws instead. It’s remarkable that, following his work, there’s one number that expresses the exponential factor with which number of people varies with salary bracket in a society. That’s social justice, right there, in a number.

  2. I’m not sure I understood all that, Tim ( I never did statistics), but if we can credit Mandelbrot with insight into social justice as well as wonder and beauty I’m all for it.

  3. Simple example: take a given group of folks and examine how many folks earning salaries around £15k, £30k and £60k. It might be there’s quarter as many folks earning 30k as 15k. It will also be the case that a quarter as many folks earn 60k as 30k. That factor (a quarter, or whatever it may be) is consistent across the whole gamut of salaries.

    That ratio – “quarter” in the example – is then the metric of economic “fairness” in the society.
    Relatedly, it’s a generalisation of the familiar complaints about “90% the wealth in 10% the people” which only looks at the top and/or bottom of the scale. This looks across the middle of the scale as well.
    The closer that ratio is to 1, the fairer it is.

    Can’t remember which book it was in which I read that, unfortunately, but I remember noting it was one of Mandelbrot’s many research topics.

    So, good for him, indeed. 🙂

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