Classical Fractals and Self-Similarity

  • Heinz-Otto Peitgen
  • Hartmut Jürgens
  • Dietmar Saupe


Mandelbrot is often characterized as the father of fractal geometry. Some people, however, remark that many of the fractals and their descriptions go back to classical mathematics and mathematicians of the past like Georg Cantor (1872), Giuseppe Peano (1890), David Hilbert (1891), Helge von Koch (1904), Waclaw Sierpinski (1916), Gaston Julia (1918), or Felix Hausdorff (1919), to name just a few. Yes, indeed, it is true that the creations of these mathematicians played a key role in Mandelbrot’s concept of a new geometry. But at the same time it is true that they did not think of their creations as conceptual steps towards a new perception or a new geometry of nature. Rather, what we know so well as the Cantor set, the Koch curve, the Peano curve, the Hilbert curve and the Sierpinski gasket, were regarded as exceptional objects, as counter examples, as ‘mathematical monsters’. Maybe this is a bit overemphasized. Indeed, many of the early fractals arose in the attempt to fully explore the mathematical content and limits of fundamental notions (e.g. ‘continuous’ or ‘curve’). The Cantor set, the Sierpinski carpet and the Menger sponge stand out in particular because of their deep roots and essential role in the development of early topology.


Sierpinski Gasket Hilbert Curve Classical Fractal Sierpinski Carpet Koch Curve 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heinz-Otto Peitgen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hartmut Jürgens
    • 1
  • Dietmar Saupe
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Dynamische SystemeUniversität BremenBremen 33Federal Republic of Germany
  2. 2.Department of MathematicsFlorida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA

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