Definition of fractal
: any of various extremely irregular curves or shapes for which any suitably chosen part is similar in shape to a given larger or smaller part when magnified or reduced to the same size
Recent Examples of fractal from the Web
How does our fractal shape become an ordinary surface?
Fractal is running a 1,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) test plant in eastern Alberta for third-largest producer Cenovus Energy, which has yet to make a decision on whether to proceed commercially.
The Universe is a fractal running on a math equation that loops endlessly in on itself, a masterpiece of geometric patterns with no beginning and no end, and in this realization there is great freedom.
Ostensibly simple abstractions—a square canvas inscribed with a large circle, black and gold pieces ridged like licorice, three huge panels made of nothing but shimmery blue—are like fractals, too replete with detail for the eye to capture them all.
In fact, the lake's fractal outline gives it a shoreline more than 1,900 miles long.
That first, invitation-only session featured demos of the compact disc, the e-book and 3D graphics, and mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot demonstrated how to map coastlines using his developing theory of fractal geometry.
When seen from thousands of feet in the air, solar installations and wind turbines become abstract works of art: a glinting fractal of metallic petals circle a single pale stamen, and sharp, slender flowers tower above the earth.
A ribbon of trees, which stood out cloudy green against the fractal red desert, seemed to corroborate its story.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fractal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Did You Know?
This term was coined in 1975 to describe shapes that seem to exist at both the small-scale and large-scale levels in the same natural object. Fractals can be seen in snowflakes, in which the microscopic crystals that make up a flake look much like the flake itself. They can also be seen in tree bark and in broccoli buds. Coastlines often represent fractals as well, being highly uneven at both a large scale and a very small scale. Fractal geometry has been important in many fields, including astronomy, physical chemistry, and fluid mechanics. And even some artists are benefiting, creating beautiful and interesting abstract designs by means of fractals.
Origin and Etymology of fractal
French fractale, from Latin fractus broken, uneven (past participle of frangere to break) + French -ale -al (noun suffix)
First Known Use: 1975See Words from the same year
Seen and Heard
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