Benoit B. Mandelbrot (20 November 1924 – 14 October 2010) was a French American mathematician. Born in Poland, he moved to France with his family when he was a child. Mandelbrot spent much of his life living and working in the United States, acquiring dual French and American citizenship.
Mandelbrot worked on a wide range of mathematical problems, including mathematical physics and quantitative finance, but is best known as the father of fractal geometry. He coined the term fractal and described the Mandelbrot set. Mandelbrot extensively popularized his work, writing books and giving lectures aimed at the general public.
Mandelbrot spent most of his career at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center, and was appointed as an IBM Fellow. He later became Sterling Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Yale University. Mandelbrot also held positions at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Université Lille Nord de France, Institute for Advanced Study and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.
In 1975, Mandelbrot coined the term fractal to describe these structures, and published his ideas in Les objets fractals, forme, hasard et dimension (1975; an English translation Fractals: Form, Chance and Dimension was published in 1977). Mandelbrot developed here ideas from the article Deux types fondamentaux de distribution statistique (1938; an English translation Two Basic Types of Statistical Distribution) of Czech geographer, demographer and statistician Jaromír Korčák.
The small asteroid 27500 Mandelbrot was named in his honor. In November 1990, he was made a Knight in the French Legion of Honour. In December 2005, Mandelbrot was appointed to the position of Battelle Fellow at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Mandelbrot was promoted to Officer of the Legion of Honour in January 2006. An honorary degree from Johns Hopkins University was bestowed on Mandelbrot in the May 2010 commencement exercises.