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Taking the IBM fellowship seriously


IBM fellowship
Benoît Mandelbrot Mathematician
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Actually, the IBM fellowship did not change my life so brutally, but I received the privileges of an IBM fellow before I received the title. However I would like to say a few words about that. It's a very good point. I mentioned how IBM research started in rather inauspicious circumstances in terms of IBM being the last big boy when everybody was busy elsewhere. IBM very soon realised the problems that its very size, gigantic size, had on the way research was being carried on. In particular the innovation was introduced that some people, a few people every year, were chosen to become IBM fellows. The word was deliberately very bland, it has many other meanings, but in that instance it meant that those people who became IBM fellows were given for five years, completely, and then for indefinite time periods as time went on, the privilege of doing basically what they wanted.

Benoît Mandelbrot (1924-2010) discovered his ability to think about mathematics in images while working with the French Resistance during the Second World War, and is famous for his work on fractal geometry - the maths of the shapes found in nature.

Listeners: Daniel Zajdenweber Bernard Sapoval

Daniel Zajdenweber is a Professor at the College of Economics, University of Paris.

Bernard Sapoval is Research Director at C.N.R.S. Since 1983 his work has focused on the physics of fractals and irregular systems and structures and properties in general. The main themes are the fractal structure of diffusion fronts, the concept of percolation in a gradient, random walks in a probability gradient as a method to calculate the threshold of percolation in two dimensions, the concept of intercalation and invasion noise, observed, for example, in the absorbance of a liquid in a porous substance, prediction of the fractal dimension of certain corrosion figures, the possibility of increasing sharpness in fuzzy images by a numerical analysis using the concept of percolation in a gradient, calculation of the way a fractal model will respond to external stimulus and the correspondence between the electrochemical response of an irregular electrode and the absorbance of a membrane of the same geometry.

Duration: 1 minute, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: May 1998

Date story went live: 29 September 2010