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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

Adult courses

The Science and the Magic of Fractals

Week 3: July 17-23, 2016

The registration period for this program has passed.
Please contact us if you have any questions.

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Fractals, seemingly magical, are geometric objects that exhibit self-similar patterns at every scale. They abound in nature, but mathematicians have only recently begun to study them rigorously.

We will learn the basics of forming fractal patterns, explore their history from pre-modern civilizations to today, and consider their connections with life and natural sciences, with the biology of the mammalian body and brain development, with music and art, and with the study of chaos. We will construct fractals, play chaos games, and show why fractals must have a fractional dimension.

Your instructors are Mircea Pitici, the editor of the annual series The Best Writing on Mathematics, and Cornell alumnus Severin Drix, a four-decades-plus math teacher at Ithaca High School who has taught many classes on fractals.

Mircea Pitici

Mircea has taught mathematics courses and writing seminars at Cornell University, Ithaca College, and Wells College. He received a teaching award from the Cornell Department of Mathematics in 2011 and the Buttrick-Crippen Scholarship awarded by the Knight Institute of Writing... > more

Severin Drix

Severin Drix has been teaching math at Ithaca High School for 43 years and has taught a course there on Fractals and Chaos for 23 semesters. It is designed for students with a wide range of math backgrounds, and many... > more


Registration is closed for this class. Please contact CAU if you have questions.

Program charges

Below are the program fees and housing choices for the on-campus summer programs. Please contact us if you have questions.

For adults staying on campus, the program fee (per adult, per week) includes the course, lodging, fifteen all-you-care-to-eat meals, banquet dinner, coffee breaks, hospitality hours, evening lectures, walks and talks, welcome and farewell receptions, conference-lot parking fees, and use of most of Cornell’s campus facilities. Some courses have additional fees as noted. Wednesday dinner is on your own. Some campus facilities, such as the golf course, also charge specific user fees.

Standard room, on-campus housing, and meals

$1,970 double occupancy, $100 single supplement

Standard room, on-campus housing with exclusive bath, and meals

$2,030 double occupancy, $150 single supplement

Course fee for commuters and those staying at Hilton Homewood Suites

$1,285. This fee does not include housing or meals. If you wish to stay at Hilton Homewood Suites, please call 607.266.0000 to make a reservation in the CAU block.

Commuter meal plan option

$327. Most CAUers staying at Hilton Homewood Suites select our meal plan for the week in order to enjoy the full CAU experience. It includes six breakfasts, five lunches, and four dinners.