How fractals helped my students to master package development in R

March 9, 2018

(This article was first published on » English, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

Last semester I taught an R programming at MIMUW. My lectures are project oriented, the second project was related to package development. The idea was straightforward: each team of students shall create a package that produces IFS fractals (based on iterated function systems). Each package shall have two generic functions: create() and plot(), documentation and vignette. Fractals shall be implemented with the use of S3 or S4 classes.

I have students with different backgrounds. Mostly statistics, but some are from physics, psychology or biology. I was a bit unsure how they will deal with concepts like iterated contractions.
After all results exceeded my expectations.

Guess what is happening with students engagement when their packages start producing nice plots. Their need/hunger for more leads to beautiful things.

This team got interested in nonlinear transformations. They manage to create Apollonian Gasket generator and much more. See their vignette and package here.

Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 7.31.24 PM

This team got interested in probabilistic mixtures of two fractals. They developed a Shiny app that mixes two sets of contractions with given mixture proportions. Here is a mixture of Sierpinski gasket and a tree. Find out their vignette here.

Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 7.29.58 PM

This team got interested in random fractals. They developed fractal generator that draws parameters of each contraction. In result they get beautiful random shapes like these. Here is their vignette.

Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 7.37.42 PMScreen Shot 2018-03-09 at 7.37.31 PMScreen Shot 2018-03-09 at 7.37.26 PM

And these two teams got interested in different ways of fractal colouring. Vignettes of Team 1 and Team 2

Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 7.40.15 PMScreen Shot 2018-03-09 at 7.36.01 PMScreen Shot 2018-03-09 at 7.31.05 PM

After all it turns out that fractals are very addictive!
Use it with care ;-)

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