I said in my previous post that I would talk more in-depth about my option choices this semester and the first of these is Fractals and Chaos. If you haven’t come across the word before, as I hadn’t before I started the module, fractals are essentially an infinitely repeating pattern. They are visible throughout nature from the appearance of a romanesco broccoli to the structure of snowflakes, ferns and crystals. The main feature that makes something a fractal is self-similarity: if you zoom in on one part of a fractal, the same structure is visible, just smaller and smaller.
In the course we looked at the mathematics involved in producing fractals. Iteration is used to create fractals, which is the process of repeatedly reevaluating a function over and over with slight differences each time. Julia sets are an example of a fractal which usually involves the iteration of a complex polynomial. The module was made up of a mixture of lectures and workshops. In the lectures we learnt the theory and in the workshops we put the theory into practice using R and C programming to create fractals.
The chaos part of Fractals and Chaos refers to iterations which, with small differences in initial conditions lead to very different results, ending in chaos. Which is what you would expect chaos to look like.
This was definitely a module to choose for people interested in pure maths and computing or those looking to improve their R programming skills. I have a report to write on the things learnt in workshops and lectures due in January, but I’ve already taken out some books from the library and I think it might be quite interesting to write about.