Intellectual Hub

The Fractal Geometry of Nature

The father of fractal geometry, Benoit Mandelbrot, famously wrote: "Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line." Fractal geometry is a branch of mathematics born in the 1970s that can model natural phenomena like trees, clouds or river systems. It is revolutionary in the sense that it can describe the chaos and irregularity of nature and objects, which classical geometry fails to do.

However, fractal geometry goes far beyond the mathematical art. Fractals appear universally in nonlinear dynamical systems, biological systems, stock market, geology and even astronomy. While the history of fractal geometry study is relatively short, our understanding of fractals has gone significantly deeper than when Mandelbrot first studied them.

This March, HKUST joined hands with Kyoto University and The Chinese University of Hong Kong to organize the 1st Hong Kong / Kyoto workshop on Fractal Geometry and Related Areas. This two-day event, spearheaded by Prof Yang Wang of Mathematics at HKUST, brought researchers in Asia together to discuss the latest developments ranging from classical problems in fractal geometry on properties of fractal sets, applications in nonlinear dynamical systems, tiling and multifractal analysis to  applications of fractal techniques partial differential equations and signal processing. The workshop aimed to strengthen the ties between HKUST and other Asian universities, and further collaboration with Kyoto University in mathematics has already been lined up.