Browse Definitions :
Definition

fractal

Contributor(s): Princy Mehta

A fractal is a non-regular geometric shape that has the same degree of non-regularity on all scales. Fractals can be thought of as never-ending patterns.

Just as a stone at the base of a foothill can resemble in miniature the mountain from which it originally tumbled down, so are fractals self-similar whether you view them from close up or very far away. The term "fractal" was coined by Benoit Mandelbrot in 1975. It comes from the Latin fractus, meaning an irregular surface like that of a broken stone.

Fractals are the kind of shapes we see in nature. We can describe a right triangle by the Pythagorean theorem, but finding a right triangle in nature is a different matter altogether. We find trees, mountains, rocks and cloud formations in nature, but what is the geometrical formula for a cloud? How can we determine the shape of a dollop of cream in a cup of coffee? Fractal geometry, chaos theory and complex mathematics attempt to answer questions like these. Science continues to discover an amazingly consistent order behind the universe's most seemingly chaotic phenomena.

Mathematicians have attempted to describe fractal shapes for over one hundred years, but with the processing power and imaging abilities of modern computers, fractals have enjoyed a new popularity because they can be digitally rendered and explored in all of their fascinating beauty. Fractals are being used in schools as a visual aid to teaching math, and also in our popular culture as computer-generated surfaces for landscapes and planetary surfaces in the movie industry. The use of algorithms to generate fractals can produce complex visual patterns for computer generated imagery (CGI) applications.

See some fractal image examples.

See an introductory tutorial on fractals:

This was last updated in August 2016

Continue Reading About fractal

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

SearchCompliance

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

  • PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard)

    The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a widely accepted set of policies and procedures intended to ...

  • risk management

    Risk management is the process of identifying, assessing and controlling threats to an organization's capital and earnings.

SearchSecurity

  • tokenization

    Tokenization is the process of replacing sensitive data with unique identification symbols that retain all the essential ...

  • incident response

    Incident response is an organized approach to addressing and managing the aftermath of a security breach or cyberattack, also ...

  • Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)

    The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) is United States legislation that defines a framework of guidelines and ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • call tree

    A call tree is a layered hierarchical communication model that is used to notify specific individuals of an event and coordinate ...

  • Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

    Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is the replication and hosting of physical or virtual servers by a third party to provide ...

  • cloud disaster recovery (cloud DR)

    Cloud disaster recovery (cloud DR) is a combination of strategies and services intended to back up data, applications and other ...

SearchStorage

Close