Living Culler

When you replace a square with four smaller squares, each a quarter the size of the original, the smaller squares occupy the same area, because 4 * ¼ = 1. If you discard one sub-square, then divide each of the three remaining sub-squares into four sub-sub-square, discard one sub-sub-quare and repeat, you create fractals like those I looked at in Squaring and Paring. The fractals stay within a fixed boundary.

Square replaced with four smaller squares, each ¼th the size of the original


Animated fractal


Static fractal


This time I want to look at a slightly different process. Replace a square with nine smaller squares each a quarter the size of the original. Now the sub-squares occupy a larger area than the original, because 9 * ¼ = 2¼. If you discard — or cull — sub-squares and repeat, the resultant fractal grows beyond the original boundary. Indeed, sub-squares start to overlap, so you can use colours to represent how often a particular pixel has been covered with a square. Here is an example of this process in action:

Square replaced with nine smaller squares, each ¼th the size of the original


Animated fractal


Static fractal #1


Static fractal #2


Here are the individual stages of a more complex fractal that uses the second process:

Stage 1


Stage 2


Stage 3


Stage 4


Stage 5


Stage 6


Stage 7


Stage 8


Stage 9 (compare Fingering the Frigit and Performativizing the Polygonic)


Stage 10


Animated version


Static version #1


Static version #2


And here are some more of the fractals you can create in a similar way:


Static version #1

Static version #2


Static version #2

Static version #2

Static version #3





Various fractals in an animated gif


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Squaring and Paring

Squares are often thought to be the most boring of all shapes. Yet every square holds a stunning secret – something that in legend prompted a mathematical cult to murder a traitor. If each side of a square is one unit long, how long is the square’s diagonal, that is, the line from one corner to the opposite corner?

By Pythagoras’ theorem, the answer is this:

• x^2 = 1^2 + 1^2
• x^2 = 2
• x = √2

But what is √2? Pythagoras and his followers thought that all numbers could be represented as either whole numbers or ratios of whole numbers. To their dismay, so it’s said, they discovered that they were wrong. √2 is an irrational number – it can’t be represented as a ratio. In modern notation, it’s an infinitely decimal that never repeats:

• √2 = 1·414213562373095048801688724209698…

A modern story, unattested in ancient records, says that the irrationality of √2 was a closely guarded secret in the Pythagorean cult. When Hippasus of Metapontum betrayed the secret, he was drowned at sea by enraged fellow cultists. Apocryphal or not, the story shows that squares aren’t so boring after all.

Nor are they boring when they’re caught in the fract. Divide one square into nine smaller copies of itself:


Discard three of the copies like this:

Stage 1
Retain squares 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9 (reading left-to-right, bottom-to-top)


Then do the same to each of the sub-squares:

Stage 1


And repeat:

Stage 3


Stage 4


Stage 5


Stage 6


The result is a fractal of endlessly subdividing contingent hexagons:

Animated vesion


Retain squares 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9 (reading left-to-right, bottom-to-top)


Here are a few more of the fractals you can create by squaring and paring:

Retain squares 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 (reading left-to-right, bottom-to-top)


Retain squares 2, 4, 5, 6, 8


Retain squares 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9


Retain squares 1, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 16


Retain squares 1, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 16


Retain squares 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15


Retain squares 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25


Retain squares 1, 3, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 15, 18, 19, 23, 25


Retain squares 1, 5, 7, 8, 9, 12, 14, 17, 18, 19, 21, 25


Retain squares 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24


Retain squares 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9, 13, 17, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25


Previously pre-posted (please peruse):

M.i.P. Trip

Square Routes Revisited

Take a square, divide it into four smaller squares, and discard the smaller square on the top right. Do the same to each of the subsquares, dividing it into four sub-subsquares, then discarding the one on the top right. And repeat with the sub-subsquares. And the sub-sub-squares. And the sub-sub-sub-squares. And so on. The result is a fractal like this:

sq2x2_123_1

Stage 1


sq2x2_123_2

Stage 2


sq2x2_123_3

Stage 3


sq2x2_123_4

Stage 4


sq2x2_123

Animated fractal


sq2x2_123_static

Final fractal (static)


It looks as though this procedure isn’t very fertile. But you can enrich it by rotating each of the subsquares in a different way, so that the discarded sub-subsquare is different. Here’s an example:

Stage 1


Stage 2


Stage 3


Stage 4


Stage 5


Stage 6


Stage 7


Animated fractal


Final fractal (static)


Here are more examples of how rotating the subsquares in different ways produces different fractals:

Animated fractal

Static fractal


Animated fractal

Static fractal


Animated fractal

Static fractal


Animated fractal

Static fractal


Animated fractal

Static fractal


Animated fractal

Static fractal


Animated fractal

Static fractal


Animated fractal

Static fractal


Animated fractal

Static fractal


Animated fractal

Static fractal


Animated fractal

Static fractal


Animated fractal

Static fractal


Animated fractal

Static fractal


Animated fractal

Static fractal


Animated fractal

Static fractal


Previously pre-posted:

Square Routes — first look at this kind of fractal

Square Routes

One of the pleasures of exploring an ancient city like York or Chester is that of learning new routes to the same destination. There are byways and alleys, short-cuts and diversions. You set off intending to go to one place and end up in another.

Maths is like that, even at its simplest. There are many routes to the same destination. I first found the fractal below by playing with the L-triomino, or the shape created by putting three squares in the shape of an L. You can divide it into four copies of the same shape and discard one copy, then do the same to each of the sub-copies, then repeat. I’ve decided to call it the hourglass fractal:

l-triomino_124

Hourglass fractal (animated)


l-triomino_124_upright_static1

Hourglass fractal (static)


Then I unexpectedly came across the fractal again when playing with what I call a proximity fractal:
v4_ban15_sw3_anim

Hourglass animated (proximity fractal)


v4_ban15_sw3_col

(Static image)


Now I’ve unexpectedly come across it for a third time, playing with a very simple fractal based on a 2×2 square. At first glance, the 2×2 square yields only one interesting fractal. If you divide the square into four smaller squares and discard one square, then do the same to each of the three sub-copies, then repeat, you get a form of the Sierpiński triangle, like this:

sq2x2_123_1

Sierpiński triangle stage 1


sq2x2_123_2

Sierpiński triangle #2


sq2x2_123_3

Sierpiński triangle #3


sq2x2_123_4

Sierpiński triangle #4


sq2x2_123

Sierpiński triangle animated


sq2x2_123_static

(Static image)


The 2×2 square seems too simple for anything more, but there’s a simple way to enrich it: label the corners of the sub-squares so that you can, as it were, individually rotate them 0°, 90°, 180°, or 270°. One set of rotations produces the hourglass fractal, like this:

sq2x2_123_013_1

Hourglass stage 1


sq2x2_123_013_2

Hourglass #2


sq2x2_123_013_3

Fractal #3


sq2x2_123_013_4

Hourglass #4


sq2x2_123_013_5

Hourglass #5


sq2x2_123_013_6

Hourglass #6


sq2x2_123_013

Hourglass animated


sq2x2_123_013_static

(Static image)


Here are some more fractals from the 2×2 square created using this technique (I’ve found some of them previously by other routes):

sq2x2_123_022


sq2x2_123_022_static

(Static image)


sq2x2_123_031


sq2x2_123_031_static

(Static image)


sq2x2_123_102


sq2x2_123_102_static

(Static image)


sq2x2_123_2011


sq2x2_123_201_static

(Static image)


sq2x2_123_211


sq2x2_123_211_static

(Static image)


sq2x2_123_213


sq2x2_123_213_static

(Static image)


sq2x2_123_033_-111


sq2x2_123_033_-111_static

(Static image)


sq2x2_123_201_1-11_static

(Static image)


sq2x2_200_1-11_static

(Static image)


sq2x2_123_132

(Static image)