Benoit Mandelbrot Dies

Benoît B. Mandelbrot, a maverick mathematician who developed the field of fractal geometry and applied it to physics, biology, finance and many other fields, died on Thursday in Cambridge, Mass.

He was 85.

The cause was pancreatic cancer, his wife, Aliette, said. He had lived in Cambridge.

Dr. Mandelbrot coined the term “fractal” to refer to a new class of mathematical shapes whose uneven contours could mimic the irregularities found in nature.

Benoît Mandelbrot, who has died of pancreatic cancer aged 85, enjoyed the rare distinction of having his name applied to a feature of mathematics that has become part of everyday life – the Mandelbrot set. Both a French and an American citizen, though born in Poland, he had a visionary, maverick approach, harnessing computer power to develop a geometry that mirrors the complexity of the natural world, with applications in many practical fields.

Benoit Mandelbrot, a French-American mathematician who explored a new class of mathematical shapes known as "fractals," has died at age 85 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the New York Times reported Saturday.

His wife Aliette told the newspaper he died of pancreatic cancer at a hospice.

His seminal book, "The Fractal Geometry of Nature," published in 1982, argued that irregular mathematical objects once dismissed as "pathological" were a reflection of nature.