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Dagcutan, Maxine Lei Marie

Patterns in nature are visible regular forms found in the natural world. The patterns can sometimes be

modeled mathematically and they include symmetries, trees, spirals, meanders, waves, foams,

tessellations, cracks and stripes. Mathematics, physics and chemistry can explain patterns in nature at

different levels. Patterns in living things express the underlying biological processes. Studies of pattern

formation make use of computer models to simulate a wide range of patterns.

The term fractal was coined by the mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot in 1975. In his seminal

work The Fractal Geometry of Nature, he defines a fractal as “a rough or fragmented geometric shape

that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the

whole.”Fractals are infinitely self-similar, iterated mathematical constructs having fractal dimension.

Infinite iteration is not possible in nature so all ‘fractal’ patterns are only approximate. For example, the

leaves of trees and umbellifers (Apiaceae) are only self-similar (pinnate) to 2, 3 or 4 levels. Fern-like

growth patterns occur in plants and in animals including bryozoa, corals, hydrozoa like the air fern,

Sertularia argentea, and in non-living things, notably electrical discharges.