Measuring Fractal Dimension ?

Steven D'Aprano steve at
Sun Jun 14 10:00:56 EDT 2009

Lawrence D'Oliveiro wrote:

> In message <slrnh33j2b.4bu.peter at>, Peter Billam wrote:
>> Are there any modules, packages, whatever, that will
>> measure the fractal dimensions of a dataset, e.g. a time-series ?
> I don't think any countable set, even a countably-infinite set, can have a
> fractal dimension. It's got to be uncountably infinite, and therefore
> uncomputable.

Incorrect. Koch's snowflake, for example, has a fractal dimension of log
4/log 3 ≈ 1.26, a finite area of 8/5 times that of the initial triangle,
and a perimeter given by lim n->inf (4/3)**n. Although the perimeter is
infinite, it is countably infinite and computable.

Strictly speaking, there's not one definition of "fractal dimension", there
are a number of them. One of the more useful is the "Hausdorf dimension",
which relates to the idea of how your measurement of the size of a thing
increases as you decrease the size of your yard-stick. The Hausdorf
dimension can be statistically estimated for finite objects, e.g. the
fractal dimension of the coast of Great Britain is approximately 1.25 while
that of Norway is 1.52; cauliflower has a fractal dimension of 2.33 and
crumpled balls of paper of 2.5; the surface of the human brain and lungs
have fractal dimensions of 2.79 and 2.97.


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