Earthquake severity, the frequency of words in texts, the sizes of cities, and the number of links to websites are all examples of quantities that can be described by fractal mathematics, according to Dave Feldman. These systems, he says, possess statistical relationships that hold across many scales.  Unpacking the implications of such relationships is just one part of Feldman’s new MOOC, Fractals and Scaling, set to begin Sept. 1.  

The 10-week, free course provides an overview of how ideas from fractals and scaling are used to study complex systems. It is offered under the auspices of Complexity Explorer, an education project of the Santa Fe Institute. The course runs from through October 23. 

This is Feldman’s third Complexity Explorer MOOC. Chaos and Dynamical Systems has been offered twice and reached over 7000 students.  Both courses are based in part on the class Introduction to Chaos and Fractals that he has offered regularly at COA since 2000, Feldman says. 

Feldman is the author of Chaos and Fractals: An Elementary Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2012), which introduces the major ideas of dynamical systems and fractals to students in a clear and substantial way, using only basic algebra. From 2004-2009, Feldman worked as a faculty member in the Santa Fe Institute’s Complex Systems Summer School in Beijing, China.  He served as the school’s co-director from 2006-2009.  Feldman was a U.S. Fulbright Lecturer in Rwanda in 2011-12.