Internets Expand in a Fractal Pattern


Internet Fractal

Dear Digerati and politicians,   (( Updated July 26, 2017)) 

This Internet Fractal pattern shown above may help you get a better view on what this infrastructural life form is. It is mapped on the famous Mandelbrot Fractal:

Mandelbr fractal1

  1. It explains why the Internet of Things (IoT) on the right of my drawing will be an in-house or in-building mini version of the Internet worldwide long distance connectivity fabric we know.

Key point is that all architecture and design rules of Internet should be applied also to the smaller subsets of this Internet Fractal too. 

Next step: internets on & in our cars and on and in our body. Remember that the heath of a body is depending on the health of its tiniest capilaries! 

2. A fractal is a graph which is self-similar. That means that parts of it have the same structure as the whole. A hologram has that functionality too. This makes internets very RESILIENT. The fabric is robust and resists local damages by repairing them by repetition of those in other scales. 

3. The Internet fractal grows by unfolding the same pattern ON EVERY SCALE. So the total fabric grows with a fixed doubling time (exponential growth) which is reported for instance in some Internet Exchanges (see below) as:  W(data volume) = 12 months. This strong growth, also seen in submarine cable capacity, is difficult to perceive from one link if you do not understand that it is the whole Internet Fractal which grows everywhere at the same time. Same applies to the floor space need for Data Centers that offer co-location for clouds and interconnection of cloud services : the whole grows faster than its components. And “good roads create traffic” !!

4. Nature is full of examples of fractal growth structure, which scales up in a clever way. See also the wonderful book of Geoffrey West : ” Scale – the Universal Laws of Life and Death in Organisms, Cities and Companies – 2017.

Trees are fractal too, and grow by unfolding. Underground too.

Trees are fractal structures of nature

Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 08.29.41

The 3D fractal structure of Culliflower “Romanesco” on at least 6 scales !

Please notice that the infrastructure of Links in Nature carry food (for energy and growth) and information between parts (for communication and  coordination).

Maybe Internet is a fungus ??

Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 10.13.19

5. Many man made structures are also growing in a fractal manner like roads in and around cities (see London below) and regions (structural model of the Netherlands, Flanders and Nord Rhein Westphalia-NRW, copyright

Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 10.12.30


6 The fractal structure applies to the economy too. Small enterprises do most of innovative work and are very important although small (and fast growing). See my blog about Fractanomics  The inequality in success ranking Law of Zipf-Mandelbrot is also based on a fractal substructure which is dynamic and clusters & falls apart continuously.

PS1. In case of doubt (for instance for those who confuse the WWW with Internet) please read the definition of what Internet IS:

PS2. In 2009 the FCC (USA Federal Communictations Committee) published a paper explaining how the PERFORMANCE of Internet access is affected by the different physical parts of the communication chain.  In that report they showed  the following graphic to explain how the last mile and wide area physical networks are interconnected with gateways. It is not very different from my “fractal” picture above. Point is that for instance congestion can strike in any of these different aggregation points depicted. You can also recognize the positioning and function of the Gateways and Internet Exchanges (IXs) for peering and transit traffic (2) below. The Cloud server farms are on the left (1).

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 12.47.06

Screen Shot 2017-07-26 at 08.26.52

PS3. Vinton Cerf, one of the fathers of Internet, was very happy when I showed him my “Internet Fractal” drawing, many years ago, because it showed with a dotted circle on the left the next scale: the Inter-planetary internet, sure to come !!

PS4. This Internet Fractal is one of my contributions to the #7thSense mindset


jaap van Till, TheConnectivist

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This entry was posted in #7thSense, #7thSense Pattern, Internet Exchange Map, Internet fractal, Internet Governance, Internet success, IoT, Network Dynamics, Network Infrastructure, Network Science, Optical Fiber Cables, Self Similar, Switches, The Internet Fractal, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Internets Expand in a Fractal Pattern

  1. Pingback: Wondering how the Internet functions? | The Connectivist

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