If you are a teacher then please also visit my new site: intermathematics.com for over 2000+ pdf pages of resources for teaching IB maths!

Plotting the Mandelbrot Set

The video above gives a fantastic account of how we can use technology to generate the Mandelbrot Set – one of the most impressive mathematical structures you can imagine. The Mandelbrot Set can be thought of as an infinitely large picture – which contains fractal patterns no matter how far you enlarge it.  Below you can see a Mandelbrot zoom – which is equivalent to starting with a piece of A4 paper and enlarging it to the size of the universe!  Even at this magnification you would still see new patterns emerging.

The way the Mandelbrot set is formed in the first video is by using the following iterative process:

Zn+1 = Zn2 + c

Here Z is a complex number (of the form a + bi) and c is a constant that we choose.  We choose our initial Z value as 0.  Z1 = 0. We then choose a value of c (which is also a complex number) and see what happens when we follow the iterative process.

Let’s choose c = 2i +1. Z1 = 0

Zn+1 = Zn2 + 2i +1
Z2 = (0)2 + 2i +1
Z2 = 2i + 1

We then repeat this process:
Z3 = Z22 + 2i +1
Z3 = (2i+1)2 + 2i +1
Z3 = (2i)(2i) + 2i + 2i + 1 + 2i +1
Z3 = 6i-2 (as i.i = -1)

As we continue this process Zn spirals to infinity.

What we are looking for is whether this iterated Z value will diverge to infinity (i.e get larger and larger) or if it will remain bounded. If diverges to infinity we colour the initial point 2i+1 as blue on a complex axis. If it remains bounded we will colour it in black. In this case our initial point 2i+1 will diverge to infinity and so it will be coloured in blue.

So, let’s use Geogebra to see this is action.  The Geogrebra online program for this is here.

We choose a value for c.  Let’s say c = 0.23 + 0.42i.  Z1 = 0
Zn+1 = Zn2 + 0.23 + 0.42i.
Z2 = (0)2 + 0.23 + 0.42i.
Z2 = 0.23 + 0.42i.

Z3 = Z22 + 0.23 + 0.42i.
Z3 = (0.23 + 0.42i.)2 + 0.23 + 0.42i.
Z3 = 0.1065 + 0.6132i
Z4 = (0.1065 + 0.6132i)2 + 0.23 + 0.42i.
Z4 = -0.13467199 + 0.5506116i

We carry on with this iterative process and plot the points that we get each time.  We can see the (0.23, 0.42), (0.1065, 0.42) and (-0.13467199, 0.5506116) correspond to the first coordinates on the spiral after (0,0).  We can see that as this process continues we see a convergence to a point close to (0.05, 0.45).

Screen Shot 2019-04-25 at 3.09.17 PM

If we choose another starting value for c: c = 0.17 + 0.56i we get the following diagram:

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Again we have a stable spiral which spirals around a geometric shape and does not diverge to infinity.

If we choose another starting value for c: c = -0.25 + 0.64i we get the following diagram:

Screen Shot 2019-04-25 at 3.10.04 PM

If we choose another starting value for c: c = 0.11 + 0.59i we get the following diagram:

Screen Shot 2019-04-25 at 3.09.43 PM

However, If we choose another starting value for c: c = 0.3 + 0.68i we get the following diagram:

Screen Shot 2019-04-25 at 3.10.12 PM

This time we can see that the orbit of points does not converge, but instead it diverges to infinity.

We can then colour in each point – simply categorising whether the value of c leads to an orbit which diverges or remains bounded.  Black means it remains bounded, blue that it has escaped to infinity.  So, below we can see that when we do the iterative process with c = 0.39+ 0.63i our orbit will escape to infinity (as it is coloured blue)

Screen Shot 2019-04-25 at 3.13.45 PM

If we do this exercise in much finer detail we arrive at the following picture:

Screen Shot 2019-04-25 at 3.14.02 PM

This is the Mandelbrot Set – and will keep producing fractal patterns as you zoom in to infinity.

Essential resources for IB students:

1) Revision Village

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Revision Village has been put together to help IB students with topic revision both for during the course and for the end of Year 12 school exams and Year 13 final exams.  I would strongly recommend students use this as a resource during the course (not just for final revision in Y13!) There are specific resources for HL and SL students for both Analysis and Applications.

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There is a comprehensive Questionbank takes you to a breakdown of each main subject area (e.g. Algebra, Calculus etc) and then provides a large bank of graded questions.  What I like about this is that you are given a difficulty rating, as well as a mark scheme and also a worked video tutorial.  Really useful!

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The Practice Exams section takes you to a large number of ready made quizzes, exams and predicted papers.   These all have worked solutions and allow you to focus on specific topics or start general revision.  This also has some excellent challenging questions for those students aiming for 6s and 7s.

Essential Resources for IB Teachers

1) Intermathematics.com

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If you are a teacher then please also visit my new site.  This has been designed specifically for teachers of mathematics at international schools.  The content now includes over 2000 pages of pdf content for the entire SL and HL Analysis syllabus and also the SL Applications syllabus.  Some of the content includes:

  1. Original pdf worksheets (with full worked solutions) designed to cover all the syllabus topics.  These make great homework sheets or in class worksheets – and are each designed to last between 40 minutes and 1 hour.
  2. Original Paper 3 investigations (with full worked solutions) to develop investigative techniques and support both the exploration and the Paper 3 examination.
  3. Over 150 pages of Coursework Guides to introduce students to the essentials behind getting an excellent mark on their exploration coursework.
  4. A large number of enrichment activities such as treasure hunts, quizzes, investigations, Desmos explorations, Python coding and more – to engage IB learners in the course.

There is also a lot more.  I think this could save teachers 200+ hours of preparation time in delivering an IB maths course – so it should be well worth exploring!

Essential Resources for both IB teachers and IB students

1) Exploration Guides and Paper 3 Resources

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I’ve put together a 168 page Super Exploration Guide to talk students and teachers through all aspects of producing an excellent coursework submission.  Students always make the same mistakes when doing their coursework – get the inside track from an IB moderator!  I have also made Paper 3 packs for HL Analysis and also Applications students to help prepare for their Paper 3 exams.  The Exploration Guides can be downloaded here and the Paper 3 Questions can be downloaded here.