Fracter – A Mandelbrot Set Viewer and SDL Demonstration Program

Last month, on October 14, 2010, one of the great mathematicians of our age died. Benoît Mandelbrot was called the father of fractal geometry, and indeed, he coined the term “fractal” and his seminal book The Fractal Geometry of Nature changed forever the way mathmeticians see nature. He tied together many things that had long been thought of as interesting, but separate, phenomena and showed us how they reveal the structure of the world around us. He also showed us some truly beautiful pictures that have spawned their own movement in art.

I won’t attempt to discuss fractals in general because, despite having a degree in math, I’ve never actually studied them. It was always something on my list of things to do in the future, but with Dr. Mandelbrots passing, I’ve decided to dip my toes into the waters fractals.

For my first SDL exploratory program I’ve decided to implement a Mandelbrot set viewer. The graphics calculations will be simple to handle, leaving me free to concentrate on the issues of using SDL itself.

I wrote this initially using SDL 1.2.14 rather than 1.3, because I was already a little familiar with SDL 1.2. When I went to rewrite it for SDL 1.3 I discoverd just how different it is from 1.2! It’s so different that I’ve decided to go ahead and present the SDL 1.2 version first and then post and discuss the changes needed for 1.3 later on.

Download: fracter.tar.bz2

(By the way, if your archiver program doesn’t understand tar.bz2 files, try 7-Zip. It’s free, open source, and handles all file types in common use.)

As for the the nature of the Mandelbrot set and how it is calculated, I refer you to the site that I have used as my primary guide: Mandelbrot Set Tutorial