chapter  1
12 Pages


BySteven H. Strogatz

There is a tremendous fascination today with chaos and fractals. James Gleick’s book Chaos (Gleick 1987) was a bestseller for months—an amazing accomplishment for a book about mathematics and science. Picture books like The Beauty of Fractals by Peitgen and Richter (1986) can be found on coffee tables in living rooms everywhere. It seems that even nonmathematical people are captivated by the infinite patterns found in fractals (Figure 1.0.1). Perhaps most important of all, chaos and fractals represent hands-on mathematics that is alive and changing. You can turn on a home computer and create stunning mathematical images that no one has ever seen before.