Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Complexity and Systems Science

pp 3700-3720

Fractal Geometry, A Brief Introduction to

  • Armin BundeAffiliated withInstitut für Theoretische Physik
  • , Shlomo HavlinAffiliated withInstitute of Theoretical Physics, Bar-Ilan‐University

Definition of the Subject

In this chapter we present some definitions related to the fractal concept as well asseveral methods for calculating the fractal dimension and other relevant exponents. Thepurpose is to introduce the reader to the basic properties of fractals and self‐affinestructures so that this book will be self contained. We do not give references to most of theoriginal works, but, we refer mostly to books and reviews on fractal geometry where theoriginal references can be found.

Fractal geometry isa mathematical tool for dealing with complex systems that have no characteristic lengthscale. A well‐known example is the shape ofa coastline. When we see two picturesof a coastline on two different scales, with 1 cm corresponding for example to0.1 km or 10 km, we cannot tell which scale belongs to which picture: both lookthe same, and this features characterizes also many other geographical patterns likerivers,cracks,mountains ...

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