An interdimensional explorer
Benoit Mandelbrot, the father of fractals, died on October 14 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at the age of 85.
The cause of death was pancreatic cancer, according to an obituary
in the New York Times.
Mandelbrot fled Poland ahead of Nazi occupation when he was 11 and moved with his family to Paris. He studied at the Ecole Polytechnique under the mathematicians Gaston Julia, whose Julia set
is a function of complex dynamics closely affiliated with a set of fractals now called the Mandelbrot set, and Paul Pierre Levy
, an expert in probability theory.
After World War II, Mandelbrot got a Masters degree in aeronautical engineering at the California Institute of Technology and a PhD in mathematical sciences from the University of Paris; he did a stint at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton University after that, where he was sponsored by none other than John von Neumann.
In 1958, after a few years in academia, Mandelbrot became a mathematician at IBM's TJ Watson Research Center, a post he held for 32 years before retiring as an IBM Fellow and taking a teaching position at Yale University a decade ago.