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)


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Tri-Way to L

The name is more complicated than the shape: L-triomino. The shape is simply three squares forming an L. And it’s a rep-tile — it can be divided into four smaller copies of itself.

l-triomino

An L-triomino — three squares forming an L


l-triomino_anim

L-triomino as rep-tile


That means it can also be turned into a fractal, as I’ve shown in Rep-Tiles Revisited and Get Your Prox Off #2. First you divide an L-triomino into four sub-copies, then discard one sub-copy, then repeat. Here are the standard L-triomino fractals produced by this technique:

l-triomino_123_134

Fractal from L-triomino — divide and discard


l-triomino_234


l-triomino_124


l-triomino_124_upright


l-triomino_124_upright_static1

(Static image)


l-triomino_124_upright_static2

(Static image)


But those fractals don’t exhaust the possibilities of this very simple shape. The standard L-triomino doesn’t have true chirality. That is, it doesn’t come in left- and right-handed forms related by mirror-reflection. But if you number its corners for the purposes of sub-division, you can treat it as though it comes in two distinct orientations. And when the orientations are different in the different sub-copies, new fractals appear. You can also delay the stage at which you discard the first sub-copy. For example, you can divide the L-triomino into four sub-copies, then divide each sub-copy into four more sub-copies, and only then begin discarding.

Here are the new fractals that appear when you apply these techniques:

l-triomino_124_exp

Delay before discarding


l-triomino_124_exp_static

(Static image)


l-triomino_124_tst2_static1

(Static image)


l-triomino_124_tst2_static2

(Static image)


l-triomino_124_tst1


l-triomino_124_tst1_static1

(Static image)


l-triomino_124_tst1_static2

(Static image)


l-triomino_134_adj1

Adjust orientation


l-triomino_134_adj2


l-triomino_134_adj3


l-triomino_134_adj3_tst3

(Static image)


l-triomino_134_adj4


l-triomino_134_exp_static

(Static image)


l-triomino_234_exp