So, last night I am watching NOVA. The episode discussed fractal geometry and aired the same time as the Viking Bears game. Admittedly, not a typical Y chromosome choice, but interesting none-the-less.
A fractal is a fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is a reduced-size copy of the whole. Simple enough. Common examples of fractals include the branching of trees, lightning, the branching of blood vessels, and snowflakes. In the seventies the mathematician Benoît Mandelbrot discovered that fractals could be described mathematically.
It turns out that a shoreline is another example of a fractal. For example, let’s say you wanted to determine the length of the coast of Brittan by measuring it instead of just using Google. The coastline paradox says the measured length of the coastline depends on the scale of measurement. The smaller the scale of measurement, the longer the measurement becomes. Thus, you would get a longer measurement if you measured the coastline with a ruler than with a yardstick. This paradox can be extrapolated to show that the measured length increases without limit as the unit of measures tends towards zero. In the first picture, using a 200 km ruler, the coastline measures 2,400 km.
I’m not sure why this idea needed to be discovered, it seems a little obvious—more information yields more informed results.
A few years ago I was hired by a firm to report to their board on their vendor selection process. The firm was about to issue a two-page RFP to two vendors. I convinced the firm to redo the process. They ultimately issued an RFP of more than a thousand requirements and selected a vendor who was not on their original list.
Again it seems obvious, but being obvious doesn’t always result in smart behavior. If you’re getting ready to spend seven to nine figures on and EHR, wouldn’t you like some degree of confidence that you selected the best one for your hospital?