# Difference between revisions of "Field:Fractals"

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===Recursive=== | ===Recursive=== | ||

− | A fractal must have a recursive definition, meaning that the fractal is defined in terms of itself. Fractals can be described by a single equation or by a system of equations, and created by taking an initial starting value and applying the recursive equation(s) to that value over and over again (a process called iteration). This iteration takes the output calculated from the previous iteration as the input for the next statement. Similarly, if the recursive definition of a fractal is a process, that process is first applied to the starting geometric shape and then continuously iterated to the segments resulting from the previous iteration. | + | A fractal must have a recursive definition, meaning that the fractal is defined in terms of itself. Fractals can be described by a single equation or by a system of equations, and created by taking an initial starting value and applying the recursive equation(s) to that value over and over again (a process called iteration). This iteration takes the output calculated from the previous iteration as the input for the next statement. Similarly, if the recursive definition of a fractal is a process, that process is first applied to the starting geometric shape and then continuously iterated to the segments resulting from the previous iteration. Recursive can be seen as a kind of positive feedback loop, where the same definition is applied infinitely by using the results from the previous iteration to start the next iteration. |

Click here to learn more about [[Iterated Functions]] and its mathematical implications. | Click here to learn more about [[Iterated Functions]] and its mathematical implications. |

## Revision as of 13:10, 1 July 2009

# Fractals

A fractal is often defined as a geometric shape that is self-similar, that is, whose magnified parts look like a smaller copy of the whole. The term "fractal" was coined by Benoit Mandelbolt in 1975 from the latin term *fractus* meaning "fragmented" or "irregular".

This concept can be explained in a commonly used analogy involving the coastline of an island:

*Suppose you wanted to measure the total perimeter of an island. You could begin by roughly estimating the perimeter of the island by measuring the border of the island from a high vantage point like an airplane and using miles as units. Next, to be more accurate, you could walk along the island's borders and measure around its various coves and bays using a measuring tape and foot as units. Then, if you wanted to be really accurate, you could carefully measure around every single protruding rock and detail of the island with foot-long ruler and use inches as a measuring unit.*

The perimeter of the island would grow as you decrease the size of your measuring device and increase the accuracy of your measurements. Also, the island would more or less self-similar (in terms of becoming more and more jagged and complex) as you continued to shorten your measuring device.

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## References

Wikipedia, Fractals Page

Cynthia Lanius, Cynthia Lanius' Lessons: A Fractal Lesson

CoolMath.com, Math of Fractals