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Move from Poland to France; High School


Benoît Mandelbrot Mathematician
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Then this became impossible and I had to go to school, and I remember very little about school between, say- third grade and age eleven, except how strange and uncomfortable it was. The Republic of Poland had been reconstituted in 1918 after over a century of interruption and was very keen on having compulsory universal primary education, but this was not happening in the schools. It was happening in, how to say, schools, which were actually apartments - in residential buildings transformed into schools. These were extraordinary cramped quarters with an extraordinarily tight arrangement between teacher and students, but I have no recollection of either having been a good or a bad student, or of having had fun or not fun. School was something comparatively insignificant compared to the rest of my life, which was much more active. My parents had endless numbers of relations. It was a very, very large extended family and things were happening all the time.

Benoît Mandelbrot (1924-2010) discovered his ability to think about mathematics in images while working with the French Resistance during the Second World War, and is famous for his work on fractal geometry - the maths of the shapes found in nature.

Listeners: Daniel Zajdenweber Bernard Sapoval

Daniel Zajdenweber is a Professor at the College of Economics, University of Paris.

Bernard Sapoval is Research Director at C.N.R.S. Since 1983 his work has focused on the physics of fractals and irregular systems and structures and properties in general. The main themes are the fractal structure of diffusion fronts, the concept of percolation in a gradient, random walks in a probability gradient as a method to calculate the threshold of percolation in two dimensions, the concept of intercalation and invasion noise, observed, for example, in the absorbance of a liquid in a porous substance, prediction of the fractal dimension of certain corrosion figures, the possibility of increasing sharpness in fuzzy images by a numerical analysis using the concept of percolation in a gradient, calculation of the way a fractal model will respond to external stimulus and the correspondence between the electrochemical response of an irregular electrode and the absorbance of a membrane of the same geometry.

Duration: 1 minute, 7 seconds

Date story recorded: May 1998

Date story went live: 24 January 2008