Benoit Mandelbrot was one of the most influential minds of the 20th century. His career spanned many disciplines, but he's perhaps best known for his groundbreaking geometry work in defining fractals, a class of shapes that "mimic the irregularities found in nature." In The Fractalist, Mandelbrot's memoir, the late scientist reveals his journey, from fleeing Poland as a young boy in 1936 to working for IBM and meeting with Noam Chomsky. Through the course of his career, Mandelbrot influnced a number of disciplines, and the impact of his work is likely to continue to be felt for many years to come.
According to The New York Times, "to read The Fractalist is to examine a brain that can seem to reside in a jar," as few references to the scientist's family or personal interests can be found in the memoir. That may be true; but if there were ever a brain that demanding examining, it would be Mandelbrot's.
"Beautiful minds don’t always write beautiful books. Life isn’t fair that way. But The Fractalist evokes the kinds of deceptively simple questions Mandelbrot asked — 'What shape is a mountain, a coastline, a river or a dividing line between two river watersheds?' — and the profound answers he supplied." — Dwight Garner, The New York Times