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IBM: background and policies


The invitation from IBM
Benoît Mandelbrot Mathematician
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I was invited to IBM by someone who was there as a young scientist, who had previously been a programmer in Von Neumann's computer division, and IBM was trying to hire people in gigantic numbers and they made me an offer like everybody else. I mean there was no great distinction of getting an offer from IBM then. And I agreed to come for the summer. So when I came I had on one hand a very strong reputation of having done acrobatic work in several esoterica; on the other hand, hardly anybody followed my work because the work was not sufficiently important in itself, or perhaps because I left when things were getting too difficult. And then I think my period of, how to say, wanderings, in terms of places, ends, and I started the middle part of my life in which I accomplished many things in a more coherent fashion.

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, 4 seconds

Date story recorded: May 1998

Date story went live: 24 January 2008