Scale

Side A: Fractal geometry will one day be as significant as calculus. Side B: Fractal geometry can only attain a lasting role in math if it becomes more about theorems and proofs than it is today.

Author's VP/Purpose

The author of this passage tells us about fractal geometry, why the public is excited about it, why fractal geometers think it's the next big thing in math, and why other mathematicians aren't so sure. This author never articulates his or her own view on that debate, however, so this passage is about presenting a debate, not about resolving a debate or picking a side. The only claim the author owns is a claim about the general appeal of fractal geometry.

Important Lines (usually Author's view)

Since the author doesn't give us much personal opinion, the important lines will largely be those that articulate the opinions of the other parties. Lines 34-36 tell us why the author thinks fractals are appealing, generally. Lines 42-45 tell us what the fractal geometers see as the future of their field. Lines 57-60 tell us what the other mathematicians think about those predictions.

Paragraph 1

Purpose: Introduce fractal geometry. Content: Lines 4-7 define the governing principle of fractals (self-similarity), and the rest of the paragraph gives an extended example (the Koch curve).

Paragraph 2

Purpose: Provide more info on fractals and their generation by computer. Content: Note the author's claim in the last lines about the major attraction of fractal geometry (a simple process that yields incredibly complex patterns). Also note the theory vs. practice contrast presented in lines 27-31. Noting the words "Theoretically," "but," and "however" is a good idea.

Paragraph 3

Purpose: Present the debate between fractal geometers and other mathematicians. Content: The first lines tell us the public is excited about fractals. Lines 42-47 give us the fractal geometers' predictions. Lines 48-60 give us the other mathematicians' objections. Be sure to note the mid-paragraph shift!

Takeaway/Pattern: Most RC passages present a debate. In some cases the author picks a side. In others, the author resolves the debate in some way. In this passage, the author remained neutral. In passages like these, know the sides of the debate, but don't project your author onto one or the other. Keep track of where in the passage each side's argument is presented.

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