The mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot has passed away at the age of 85. Mandelbrot made a career in defining and studying fractals, geometric shapes that do not lose complexity as you zoom in on them. Things like coastlines are fractals: as you zoom in on a coastline, smaller and smaller inlets and other curves appear.
For me, my introduction to this area was by my advisor John Bartholidi who used space filling curves, a type of fractal, to schedule Atlanta’s Meals on Wheels (free lunches for the elderly), of all things. At that time, I bulled my way through the fractal literature, always hoping to find some more examples of how fractals could be used in operations research. Unfortunately, I don’t know of other good examples of fractals in operations research. But I have found knowing about fractals to be helpful in my everyday life. Once you start looking for fractals and self-similar objects, they are all around and seeing them makes experiences richer.
Anyone know other examples of how fractals have been used in operations research?