The Quest to Decode the Mandelbrot Set, Math’s Famed Fractal

In the mid-1980s, like Walkman cassette players and tie-dyed shirts, the buglike silhouette of the Mandelbrot set was everywhere. Students plastered it to dorm room walls around the world. Mathematicians received hundreds of letters, eager requests for printouts of the set. (In response, some of them produced catalogs, complete with price lists; others compiled its most striking features into...


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