Inspired by the work of Noah Salvaterra and his beautiful Tableau visualizations of fractals and L-Systems, I made this visual of the Lorenz Strange Attractor. Edward Lorenz, a meteorologist and mathematician,  developed a set of equations to model atmospheric convection. When plotted in 3-dimensional space, the equations generate a beautiful pattern. If you want to know more, here is a nice introduction to Chaos Theory.

How did I make the plot in Tableau? I used Processing to generate the points (see code below) but this could could as easily be done in Excel.

[code language=”java”]
PrintWriter textFile;

//set parameters
float h=0.008;
float a=10;
float b=28;
float c=8/3;

//set initial conditions
float x=0;
float y=10;
float z=10;

void setup() {
//initialize output text file
textFile = createWriter(“txtfiles/points.txt”);
for(int i=0;i<10000;i++) {
//print output to console (optional)
println(x + “,” + y + “,” + z);
//save output to text file
textFile.println(x + “,” + y + “,” + z);

I then imported the text file into Tableau, used X,Y coordinates to make a scatter plot, and applied Z coordinate to Size to simulate 3D.