Benoit Mandelbrot dies aged 85

Enabler of pretty pictures, mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot has died at the age of 85.

Mandelbrot is best-known for his work in the field of fractal images, having lent his name to a class of image that particularly attracts the imagination.

His work, "The Fractal Geometry of Nature," published in 1982 helped promote a theory of chaos in nature. Interpreting apparent chaos through the use of fractal geometry allowed Mandelbrot to demonstrate patterns where previously many thought there were none.

Polish-born Mandelbrot moved to France as a child but spent most of his professional life in the United States, working at IBM's main research laboratory at Yorktown Heights, New York. His attempt to put order into chaos developed from a study of the British coastline and he was able to apply the model to many different pheomena.

He taught mathematics for many years at Yale University, where he was Sterling Professor Emeritus of Mathematical Sciences, his family said in a statement, which also confirmed he had died of cancer.

Mandelbrot was a charismatic man comfortable operating beyond societal norms, as you can see from this talk he gave on the TED channel earlier this year.

Mandelbrot leaves behind his wife, Aliette, two sons and three grandchildren.