Black and white rendering of the Mandelbrot Set, drawn in Autoplot.

Mandelbrot Set in Autoplot

My older brother Jeremy was the first person to help me with programming. (And I’ve never stopped asking him for programming advice since then!)

My first computer was a Commodore 128 that my mom picked up at a garage sale (it turns out from one of Jeremy’s high school friends); it was quite ancient even then but maybe a good first device for me. I remember Jeremy giving me challenges like drawing a circle on screen using the builtin BASIC interpreter.

Drawing the Mandelbrot Set is one of the first programming projects that I remember setting for myself, inspired by reading The Ghost from the Grand Banks. (My dad helped me work out the math since I wasn’t familiar with complex numbers yet.) In my first version, I used SQRT in computing the distance, which made it take hours to run.

I thought it might be neat to make my first code commit to Github sort of honor these two early influences for me, Jeremy and the Mandelbrot Set, by writing a little program to draw the Mandelbrot Set in Autoplot, a scientific visualization tool developed by Jeremy and collaborators: “Autoplot is an interactive browser for data on the web; give it a URL or the name of a file on your computer and it tries to create a sensible plot of the contents in the file. Autoplot was developed to allow quick and interactive browsing of data and metadata files that are often encountered on the web.”


You can see the code here:

Autoplot uses Jython, a Java implementation of Python, for scripting. This page has an intro on how to use Autoplot’s scripting capabilities:

I formatted the code using Black.

If you want to give Autoplot a try, you can download it from here:

Here are a couple of open access scientific papers I found that are using Autoplot for visualization:

Thank you so much, Jeremy, for getting me started on programming! (And thank you also for putting up with some questions from me while I was figuring out the above.)


2 responses to “Mandelbrot Set in Autoplot”

  1. Jeremy Avatar

    David, it’s amazing how quickly you pick things up!

    1. Only got it with a lot of help from you 🙂 Thanks, Jeremy.

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