The (Mis)Behavior of Markets: A Fractal View of Risk, Ruin and Return

Date

August 23, 2004

Speaker

Benoit Mandelbrot

Affiliation

Yale

Overview

From the inventor of fractal geometry, a revolutionary new theory that overturns our understanding of how markets work.
Benoit B. Mandelbrot, one of the century’s most influential mathematicians, is world-famous for making mathematical sense of a fact everybody knows but that geometers from Euclid on down had never assimilated: Clouds are not round, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not smooth. To these classic lines we can now add another example: Markets are not the safe bet your broker may claim. In his first book for a general audience, Mandelbrot, with co-author Richard L. Hudson, shows how the dominant way of thinking about the behavior of markets–a set of mathematical assumptions a century old and still learned by every MBA and financier in the world–simply does not work.
As he did for the physical world in his classic The Fractal Geometry of Nature, Mandelbrot here uses fractal geometry to propose a new, more accurate way of describing market behavior. The complex gyrations of IBM’s stock price and the dollar-euro exchange rate can now be reduced to straightforward formulae that yield a far better model of how risky they are. With his fractal tools, Mandelbrot has gotten to the bottom of how financial markets really work, and in doing so, he describes the volatile, dangerous (and strangely beautiful) properties that financial experts have never before accounted for. The result is no less than the foundation for a new science of finance.

Speakers

Benoit Mandelbrot

Benoit Mandelbrot is Sterling Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Yale University and a Fellow Emeritus at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Laboratory. He is the inventor of fractal geometry, whose most famous example, the Mandelbrot Set, has been replicated on millions of posters, t-shirts and record albums.He was a leading figure in James Gleick’s Chaos and has received the Wolf Prize in Physics, the Japan Prize in science and technology, and awards from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the IEEE, and numerous universities in the U.S. and abroad. His books include Fractals: Form, Chance and Dimension, which was later expanded into the classic The Fractal Geometry of Nature, which has sold more than 200,000 copies.

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