Tag Archives: Math

Research Mode

Image Source: Tumblr

Image Source: Tumblr

I just got my first interlibrary loan yesterday (ILL for all you bibliotheque nerds). It is an interesting mix of adult responsibilities and genuine excitement. The book is due on April 30th (no renewals), and I will be fined $2.50 a day if it is not returned. There’s an envelope it must be returned inside, and a sleeve that is stuck to the outside cover. The cheapest I could have bought this book was $20, with most copies ranging more in the $50-$60 range. As I continue on the journey from a general interest in fractals to a more specialized exploration, there are only going to be more such books and loans (though I still have to fight off the hoarders mentality that I’d have if I had a University Library’s budget).

It struck me the other day how different the way I conduct research now was from when I was in highschool and college. The internet was a strong resource in both times, but where I’d be printing off papers in college and compiling them in a notebook, now I am just throwing things on my tablet. I found a 2000 page math encyclopedia on the Internet Archive the other day, and I can carry it around in my bag without any back strain.

Yet I still find myself working with paper when it comes to taking notes and working things out. Part of this is simply mobility, it’s easier to take notes on paper at idle moments than it is to use a computer. And part of it is that I believe as many do, that taking notes on paper is a better way to retain information and to organize thoughts. Plus it’s a way to make use of the dozens of notebooks that have piled up in my house that have yet to be filled with brilliant short stories.

I’m a little more specialized with these notebooks than college. I got into a genuine discussion with Brian over whether Moleskine is pronounced “Moleskin” or “Moleskeen” (I prefer the later even though it is likely wrong). And I have all different sizes, larger stay at home notebooks for rough work, smaller reporter pads for technical notes, and mid-size for more general information. My “go bag” has a tablet, an eReader and six notebooks!

And even when I find myself frustrated with pay-walls for articles, or expensive books, I am amazed at how much knowledge is just out there for free. Even with the potential for steep fines, getting a book from an inter-library loan was cheaper and almost as quick (if not faster) than buying the book myself. I do admit to some impatience with having to wait for physical materials, both waiting for them to arrive, and waiting for time to read them at home. It’s why I’m a fan of writing affordable eBook reference materials. But sometimes there’s nothing like a good primary source from an author whose name you need a pronunciation guide for.

How do you do research? Are you still a pencil and physical book sort of person, or is Google the way to all knowledge?

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One of the results of previous research projects was Fractals: A Programmer’s Approach. If you’re looking for a gateway to understanding fractals, particularly how to make them, it’s not a bad place to start, and it’s free on Kindle Unlimited.

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Flowsnake

Not much time for a post today, so thought I’d share something I was working on last night:

GosperPlusPeanoGosper_blue

Kind of an old fractal classic, known colloquially as “Flowsnake” when it was written about by Martin Gardner, and also as the Peano-Gosper curve. The gosper curve at the border bounds the inner fractal so we can get the nice blue dye effect. I did this with a single L-System so I can generate all different sizes of the two curves, while still keeping them inside each other. Enjoy!

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Author Enters Rehab For Fractal Addiction

Ben Trube, author and one-time CMT background audience member, has admitted himself into the Helge von Koch Fractal Addiction treatment center earlier this week, following an incident that nearly resulted in the destruction of his home.

“I’m doing this for my family,” Trube said in a short statement.

According to reports, Trube had been working on a new technique for visualizing the Mandelbrot set when his laptop caught fire, destroying many treasured chotskies including a Pikachu made of Legos and a Snoopy stuffed animal.

“I’ve learned a lot about loss since that fire,” Trube added.

Trube’s addiction reportedly began sometime in late elementary school, with occasional math outbursts in his mid-teens.

“We’d walk down the hallway and suddenly there would be dozens of Sierpinski Triangles plastered all over the walls,” reported a former WKHS administrator. “Sometimes it took hours to pull those staples out of the corkboard.”

“I thought he’d left it all behind in college,” Trube’s wife stated when reached for comment. “But then he got the idea to write a book, and that brought it all flooding back.”

Soon the Trube home was buried in books by Saupe, Wolfram, and Devaney. In the months that followed, Trube reportedly sank dozens of dollars into any penny book he could find on Amazon.

“He’d light up when he found one with a floppy [disk] in the back,” Trube’s wife reported.

Sales of the new fractal book allegedly only served to deepen the author’s obsessive behavior.

“It became all he’d talk about at night. I’d be trying to go to bed, and all he’d want to talk about is L-Systems or some new Indian Kolam he’d discovered,” Mrs. Trube lamented.

An unnamed source within the Koch center reported that treatment has not been going well.

“He got a hold of a pencil and started drawing a dragon curve on his wall. When we tried to restrain [Trube] he started shouting ‘Z-two is Z-one squared plus c‘!”

Promotional Poster drawn by Trube for non-existent fractal MMA match.

Promotional Poster for non-existent fractal MMA match.

Nationwide, fractal addiction is the leading cause of death among mathematicians aged 80-100.

“Dr. Mandelbrot has a non-zero amount of blood on his hands.”

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Fractal Videos from the Coloring Book

I produced some new animations for the Adult Coloring Book showing how three of the images are drawn line-by-line. Several of these are variations on classic fractals, while “Cog in the Machine” is my own original creation. Enjoy!

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Information Glut

One of the details that struck me in watching some of the early X-Files episodes was how Mulder and Scully looked at the case-files. In the first episode Scully is reading a newspaper clipping that has been taped to a piece of paper. I remember preparing reports and research in highschool and early college. I tended to use very “dead tree” methods, photocopying articles out of books, printing out stuff from online, and shoving all of this material into large black binders.

How much things have changed in the intervening years.

Now my process involves a combination of Google searches and bookmarking web-pages, and downloading scholarly articles, cataloging them in Calibre, and sending them to my Kindle to review. As I’m preparing material for another book, I’m amazed at all the stuff I downloaded during the production of Fractals: A Programmer’s Approach that got thrown on a flash drive and never looked at again.

In addition to making me wonder what the plural of thesis is, looking at all of these papers (many of which are frankly far above my head even with the pretty pictures) I’m struck by how I’ve only scratched the surface of this subject. Part of me thinks at some point I should study another area of significance, maybe global warming, or even other areas of math. But the truth is this one field is so rich, and touches so many parts of life, science, and engineering, that I’m probably going to spend the rest of my life working on and writing about fractals.

One of the nicknames for a PHD is “Piled Higher and Deeper” meaning you know an incredible amount about a very narrow range of things. I’m not going after a doctorate, at best I might be trying to be the next Martin Gardner, but I still find myself amazed at just how much access I have to knowledge that would have seemed unthinkable 10-15 years ago. I’ve downloaded course slides from university classes in the Netherlands, dissertations from Germany, and papers from dozens of conferences.

I’m still old fashioned in some ways. I may load all this stuff onto a Kindle, but I keep a notebook handy to take notes. And I still refer to my old printouts, if for nothing else but to find the books and articles the material came from. And I write books as signposts along the way as a way of encapsulating what I’ve learned, for fear that the knowledge is somehow fleeting. I look back at some programs I wrote in highschool, or even a few years ago for programmer’s approach and wonder, how the hell did I do that (Green ink is very important not only for other programmers but for yourself)?

How do you compile your research? Is everything on the computer, or are you still a very physically oriented sort of person?

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Fractal Coloring Book – Cutting Room Floor

As I said yesterday, I produced over 100 images for the new coloring book, some of which were pretty cool but didn’t quite make the cut. Thought I’d share a few of my favorites for this long overdue “Fractal Friday.”

Have a great weekend!

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New Release – Adult Coloring Book: Fractals

So here’s what I’ve been up to the last couple of months…

FinalFrontCover

My latest book, Adult Coloring Book: Fractals, is available now on Amazon!

I’m excited to publishing this book with Green Frog Publishing, a small Indie Publisher based in Vermont. This book is actually the second in a series of coloring books, the first of which is a great set of hand-drawn images of the Adirondacks by Dave Campbell.

This book has been a real collaborative effort, including the proofreading talents of one Mr. Brian Buckley, cover and website art by my wife, and editing by Cecilia Bizzoco. Green Frog’s been just great, providing a lot of personal attention and developmental feedback to make this a better book than anything I could have done alone.

The Adult Coloring Book: Fractals is a collection of 25 fractal images for you to color and enjoy. Along the way you’ll learn the basics about fractals, and how some of the individual images were created. Most of this is all new material exclusive to this book (we’ll talk more later in the week about the production process). There’s also an extensive glossary with even more fractal explorations and resources (any glossary that includes a definition for the “Genesis Effect” is okay in my book).

I think fractals are uniquely suited to adult coloring books in that they offer a lot of freedom for interpretation. How you color these images is entirely up to you. Just seeing some of the work my wife put together really made these fractals come alive for me.

You can check out some of the images from this book on my new website BenTrubeFractals.com or buy the book from Amazon.com. Particularly check out the “Play with Fractals” tab for some of the unique L-Systems in this book.

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