Mathematician Benoît Mandelbrot dies aged 85
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Mandelbrot was born to Lithuanian parents on November 20, 1924, in . Mandelbrot and his family, who were Jewish, fled persecution in 1936, moving to France. He later studied at Paris' and received a master's degree in aeronautics from the . In 1952, Mandelbrot went back to Paris for a doctorate in mathematics, and worked with at , New Jersey's to earn a postdoctoral degree. He later described a series of complex shapes when studying the concept of roughness. Calling these shapes "fractals," he found that they were present in nature and applied his work to other fields, including finance, physics, and biology.
In a statement, French President Nicolas Sarkozy praised Mandelbrot, who had "a powerful, original mind that never shied away from innovation and battering preconceived ideas." Sarkozy said that his country "is proud to have received Benoît Mandelbrot and to have allowed him to benefit from the best education."
In 1958, Mandelbrot began working for for I.B.M. at the company's in , New York. In 1987, he began teaching at , later becoming Sterling Professor Emeritus of Mathematical Sciences. Mandelbrot received the in 1993 and the in 2003, in addition to more than fifteen honorary degrees.
Of his own career, Mandelbrot once said, "If you take the beginning and the end, I have had a conventional career. But it was not a straight line between the beginning and the end. It was a very crooked line." He is survived by Aliette, his wife, Laurent and Didier, his sons, and three grandchildren.