Mandelbrot Set

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Mandelbrot Set
ReleaseWhere Tradition Meets Tomorrow
Release date10-01-2004
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Demo version: {{#song:Mandelbrot+Set+(Demo) }}

Mandelbrot Set is a song from Jonathan Coulton's first EP, Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow. It is a tribute to the fractal known as the Mandelbrot set and the man it is named after, Benoit Mandelbrot.


  • Written for John Hodgman's Little Gray Books Lecture #16, "How to Pour the Perfect Werthmann", delivered on February 5, 2003.[1]
    • This lecture concerned things that were named after actual people.
  • Proof that Benoit Mandelbrot was aware of Jonathan Coulton and this song. Mandelbrot also said he was "impressed by [the song] and its popularity."[2]
  • In a strange twist of fate, Jonathan Coulton did not perform at the 2008 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, and hence did not meet Benoit Mandelbrot. However, Paul and Storm did[3].
  • As JoCo acknowledges at some of his concerts, the chorus is in fact the procedure for generating a Julia Set for a given C, not the Mandelbrot Set. For the Mandelbrot Set, the lyrics would become, “Take a point called Z in the complex plane, \Let Z1 be Z squared plus Z. \And Z2 is Z1 squared plus Z. \And so on…” .
  • Benoit Mandelbrot died on October 14, 2010, making the verse "Mandelbrot's in heaven, at least he will be when he's dead / Right now he's still alive and teaching math at Yale" no longer accurate. Despite this, JoCo stated he was apprehensive about retiring the song or change its lyrics. [4]
    • In recent concerts, the song will reach "Mandelbrot's in heaven..." and JoCo will simply continue to play the song without singing until the next half of the verse, skipping the now-inaccurate lines.



"Mandelbrot Set" is available for purchase in the Jonathan Coulton MP3 Store as an individual track or as part of Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow. Of course, this song is also included as part of the "Everything" playlist.

Downloadable FLAC versions of the above are available in the Jonathan Coulton FLAC Store


As of February 2008, the CD version of Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow is out of print and is no longer available.

Other versions[edit]

The demo version of "Mandelbrot Set" is also available on the MP3 Store as an individual track or as part of Other Experiments. This song is also included as part of the "Everything" playlist:


A karaoke version of "Mandelbrot Set" (studio recording version) is available on the Jonathan Coulton Karaoke Store.

An acoustic version of "Mandelbrot Set" is available on the Best. Concert. Ever. CD/DVD combination and on the digital download versions.

A PG version of Mandelbrot Set is also available on the mp3 store in the 'lost+found' playlist:




Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow
1. The Future Soon · 2. Skullcrusher Mountain · 3. I Crush Everything · 4. Betty and Me · 5. Mandelbrot Set
JoCo Looks Back
1. Code Monkey · 2. Ikea · 3. I Feel Fantastic · 4. Mandelbrot Set · 5. Tom Cruise Crazy · 6. Shop Vac · 7. Chiron Beta Prime · 8. I'm Your Moon · 9. My Monkey · 10. Skullcrusher Mountain · 11. I Crush Everything · 12. When You Go · 13. A Talk with George · 14. You Ruined Everything · 15. Creepy Doll · 16. Mr. Fancy Pants · 17. Baby Got Back · 18. First of May · 19. Re: Your Brains · 20. The Future Soon
Best. Concert. Ever.
1. The Future Soon · 2. Ikea · 3. Shop Vac · 4. I'm Your Moon · 5. Baby Got Back · 6. Kenesaw Mountain Landis · 7. Chiron Beta Prime · 8. Tom Cruise Crazy · 9. Code Monkey · 10. Creepy Doll · 11. Still Alive · 12. Mr. Fancy Pants · 13. I Crush Everything · 14. Skullcrusher Mountain · 15. Mandelbrot Set · 16. You Ruined Everything · 17. Re: Your Brains · 18. A Talk with George · 19. I Feel Fantastic · 20. First of May