Father of fractals dies at 85

The man whose mathematical method revolutionised our understanding of everything from economics to cauliflowers and coastlines has died of cancer at the age of 85.

Benoit Mandelbrot, a French mathematician, died in a hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

His work with fractals, a term he coined himself, applied mathematics to the natural world, and formulated a method to help understand its infinite complexity.

"If you cut one of the florets of a cauliflower, you see the whole cauliflower but smaller," he explained at the influential Technology Entertainment and Design (TED) conference earlier this year.

"Then you cut again, again, again, and you still get small cauliflowers. So there are some shapes which have this peculiar property, where each part is like the whole, but smaller." The mathematical principle has been used to measure shapes previously thought unmeasurable, including coastlines and mountains.

For your fractal viewing pleasure: