African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design

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Near Fine with no dust jacket; Softcover; Rutgers University Press; 1999 0813526132. 10" tall.

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Overview

Fractals are characterized by the repetition of similar patterns at ever-diminishing scales. Fractal geometry has emerged as one of the most exciting frontiers on the border between mathematics and information technology and can be seen in many of the swirling patterns produced by computer graphics. It has become a new tool for modeling in biology, geology, and other natural sciences.

Anthropologists have observed that the patterns produced in different cultures can be characterized by specific design themes. In Europe and America, we often see cities laid out in a grid pattern of straight streets and right-angle corners. In contrast, traditional African settlements tend to use fractal structure--circles of circles of circular dwellings, rectangular walls enclosing ever-smaller rectangles, and streets in which broad avenues branch down to tiny footpaths with striking geometric repetition. These indigenous fractals are not limited to architecture; their recursive patterns echo throughout many disparate African designs and knowledge systems.

Drawing on interviews with African designers, artists, and scientists, Ron Eglash investigates fractals in African architecture, traditional hairstyling, textiles, sculpture, painting, carving, metalwork, religion, games, practical craft, quantitative technologies, and symbolic systems. He also examines the political and social implications of the existence of African fractal geometry. His book makes a unique contribution to the study of mathematics, African culture, anthropology, and computer simulations.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813526133
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/1999
  • Pages: 272

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Pt. I Introduction
Ch. 1 Introduction to fractal geometry 3
Ch. 2 Fractals in African settlement architecture 20
Ch. 3 Fractals in cross-cultural comparison 39
Ch. 4 Intention and invention in design 49
Pt. II African fractal mathematics
Ch. 5 Geometric algorithms 61
Ch. 6 Scaling 71
Ch. 7 Numeric systems 86
Ch. 8 Recursion 109
Ch. 9 Infinity 147
Ch. 10 Complexity 151
Pt. III Implications
Ch. 11 Theoretical frameworks in cultural studies of knowledge 179
Ch. 12 The politics of African fractals 192
Ch. 13 Fractals in the European history of mathematics 203
Ch. 14 Futures for African fractals 216
App Measuring the fractal dimension of African settlement architecture 231
Notes 235
References 243
Index 253
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