Fractals & Chaos Lesson Recap for 1/8 & 1/9

We’ve discussed and proven a number of properties of the Julia Sets that we’ve observed, including that all Julia Sets have 180-rotational symmetry, and only Julia Sets with real-number parameters will have x- and y-axis symmetry. We also discussed an argument that all Julia sets are either completely connected (any two points can be connected by a path along the Julia Set) or completely disconnected (every point is disconnected from every other point). This difference gives us a convenient way to categorize Julia Sets, allowing us to create a catalog view of them, much like we did for the Feigenbaum Plot in the real numbers.

What we need then is a convenient way of identifying whether or not a Julia Set is connected without having to actually draw it. Fortunately, iterations of points contained within the Julia Set give us a way to do that: if we can find seeds that do not diverge to infinity, then the Julia Set is connected. More specifically, we have argued that the origin, z = 0, is a convenient starting seed to iterate. If the orbit of z = 0 eventually tends to infinity, we know the Julia Set is disconnected. But how do we know the path of an orbit will actually tend to infinity and never return?

Fortunately, there’s a radius of no return. We further proved in class that if the path of an orbit of the origin exceeds r = 2the orbit will never come back. This means that any value of |c| > 2 results in a Julia Set that is automatically disconnected (since if z_0 = 0, then z_1 = 0^2 + c = c, and we’re already past 2), and for any value of |c| < 2, we just need to iterate until the orbit exceeds 2.

If we imagine the complex plane as a computer image, where every pixel corresponds to a single value of c, then we can colorize those pixels based on whether or not their orbit has “escaped”. As we increase the number of iterations, more and more pixels will become colorized (we can use the same colors for pixels that escape at the same number of iterations). Eventually, we will see a shape form. That shape is the Mandelbrot Set.

Download and investigate the Mandelbrot Set using the program Fractal Zoomer. Make sure you download Fractal Zoomer.exe (unfortunately, this software only functions on Windows-based computers). There are three modes in the basic view screen: Zoom Mode, Julia Mode, and Orbit Mode

  • In Zoom Mode:
    • Left Click = Zoom in
    • Right click = Zoom out
    • Ctrl+F3 = Set new center
  • Press J to activate Julia Mode
    • Left Click anywhere in the Mandelbrot Set to create the Julia Set at that value of C
    • Ctrl+F3 will allow you to spawn a Julia Set of a specific value of C (use this to investigate Julia Sets from the Complex Paint Worksheet)
  • Press O to activate Orbit Mode
    • Left click anywhere in the Mandelbrot Set and it will superimpose the orbit of seeds within the Julia Set that uses that value of C
    • Ctrl+F3 will allow you to specify the orbit of a particular value of C (or if you are in a Julia Set, of a particular seed).

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