Prof. Dr. Dr.-Ing.h.c. Heinz-Otto Peitgen

Heinz-Otto Peitgen is a German mathematician who taught at the University of Bremen, the University of California at Santa Cruz,  and at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.


His books on chaos and fractals were world wide bestsellers for several decades. 


His research covered initially pure and applied 

mathematics, mathematics of finance, mathematics education, computer graphics and eventually he speareheaded the digital transformation of medicine 

© Peter Rigaud


 It is important for me to acknowledge the fact that my path and my work have been impacted by many people, who guided me, inspired me and helped me. It feels like that again and again I bumped into people who left marks on me to the extend that onwards my path did change significantly.


Some of them were monumental scientists, like late Friedrich Hirzebruch, Manfred Eigen,  the late Benoit B. Mandelbrot, the late Ed Lorenz, or my advisor Christian Fenske. Some of them were monumental composers like the György Ligeti, the late Iannis Xenakis, and Jean-Claude Risset, or great artits like Volker Banfield, Caroline Kirchhoff-Brinkmann, Paavo Jaervi, the late Juergen LIT Fischer, Rainer Mordmueller, Bernd Altenstein, the late Ludwig Wilding, Gisela Eufe, Joan Bennàssar, and Peter Luechinger. Some of them were outstanding doctors like Klaus J. Klose, the late Jan H.C.L. Hendriks, Kathy Schilling, Jon Wiener, Hans Junkermann, Joachim Teubner, or Koichi Tanaka. Others were colleagues like the late Peter H. Richter, Ludwig Arnold, Diederich Hinrichsen, Juergen TimmDieter Praetzel-Wolters, Ralph Abraham, Ed Landesman, the late Kurt Georg, Klaus Schmitt, Eugen Allgower, Arnold Mandell,  the late Jim Brewer, and Markus Hohenwarter, the founder and creator of GeoGebra, and Alexander Deichsel and Klaus Brandmeyer, who introduced me to the art of branding.


In retrospect it seems that the admiration which I felt for Eigen, Mandelbrot, or Ligeti was certainly for their outstanding work, but probably even more for their maverick-like character, their courage to leave the mainstream and open new perspectives. Gradually, their role model, aquaintance and friendship inspired similar attitudes in myself.

Gerhard Klawitter, my math teacher in highschool (Wüllenweber Gymnasium Bergneustadt), seeded my passion for mathemtics. He was an extraordinary teacher for students suceptible for mathematics.

His class of 1965 celebrated with him (4th from left) its 50th graduation anniversary (Abitur).

At the university of Bonn my teacher was the late Friedrich Hirzebruch, one of the foremost mathematicians and exemplary teachers. It felt like mathematics was created while he lectured. His style was fresh and captivating. It molded my own approach to lecturing profoundly. 

The late William T. Bethea III, was my instrument flight instructor. Learning to fly by instruments is a challenge, and once you master it, it is a joy beyond words. Bill taught me the required curriculum to obtain an IFR license. But more importantly he also taught me the skills to survive challenging situations beyond the book based on his rich background:
He graduated from the Citadel in Charleston in 1967. He served honorably in the United States Army and received the Distinguished Flying Cross while in Vietnam in 1968 to 1969, where we flew helicopters on search and rescue missions behind the front lines. He was was a lifelong avid aviator and air show performer.

The late Jan H.C.L. Hendriks, radiologist and world expert in breast cancer diagnosis,  was a key person in establishing breast cancer screening in the Netherlands in the beginning of the 1990s. Subseqeuntly his program became the norm in many European countries. When I met Jan around 1996 he soon molded my views and inspired my interest in the huge practical and scientific challenges of breast cancer screening. Our research efforts at MeVis Research and later in Fraunhofer MEVIS were guided by his beliefs and principals. He became one of our most important advisors and a faithful personal friend. When I designed and initiated the first model project for breast cancer screening in Germany at the end of the 1990s Jan helped and advised and without his role model example and his convictions ingrained in me,  I probably would have keeled over in front of the anti-screening front in Bremen.     

Hartmut Jürgens and Carl Evertsz cofounded the commercial spin-off MeVis Technology GmbH with me in 1997. Hartmut was one of my first students at the University of Bremen. Carl joined my Institut CeVis in 1991, after he was a postdoc with Benoit B. Mandelbrot. 

Several other companies were founded during our subsequent commercial efforts between 1997 and 2007 when all companies were merged into the new MeVis Medical Solutions AG and a succesful IPO at the Frankfurt Stock Exchanged was launched in November 2007. Carl served as CEO and I served as chair of the Supervisory Board until 2015. 


The late Benoit B. Mandelbrot impacted more than just my research interests. He also impacted my coordinate system within the sciences. I first met him in 1985 and soon we became lifelong friends. In the picture above he is on the left and next to Richard D. Voss and on the far right is Dietmar Saupe. We pose in front of a hand painted ad for the event "The Fractal Cosmos" which I organized as a "Science meets the Arts" event at UCSC in Santa Cruz 1986. Dietmar was my first student at the University of Bremen and later became a coauthor of the books "The Science of Fractal Images and "Chaos and Fractals" and several more. When Richard came to Florida Atlantic University in 1995 he joined my efforts in regional and national mathematics teacher enhancement programs funded by the NSF (A and B)

The late Peter H. Richter, Professor of Physics at the University of Bremen  and I founded the first computer graphics lab for mathematical experiments in Europe in 1983. Our award winning bestseller "The Beauty of Fractals" would have never come to existence without Peter.  

Klaus J. Klose, when he was head of Radiology at the University Hospital of Marburg managed to seed my interest in medical image computing in a notable way. In the fall of 1991 he posed a problem in liver surgery which occupied me for more than two decades and which eventually lead me to found MeVis Research gGmbH in 1995, an independent nonprofit research center, which later became Fraunhofer MEVIS.

Quite unexpectedly, the late Gyoergy Ligeti crossed my life path in 1985 after Manfred Eigen had pointed him to Peter Richter and myself. I had always been passionate about music of all genres but contempory. This changed forever, when I met Ligeti and befriended him. It took literally just one meeting and I was transformed. Why? Just listen to this captivating video  and you have the answer. Dedicating his 17th Etude to me will forever keep us connected.


Wilhelm Berghorn was a student of mine and became a faithful friend. He did his doctoral thesis on wavelets and from the beginnig he was interested in applying his skills to financial markets. As a result he, Carl Evertsz and I founded a company: Financial Technology Solutions AG, which we sold a few years later. Willy joined Fraunhofer MEVIS and later MeVis Medical Systems AG and sucessfully helped building our medical business. But his inclination remained with mathematics of finance. In 2015 we founded a new company, Mandelbrot Asset Management GmbH, which sucessfully launched an investment fund in July of 2015: Mandelbrot Market Neutral (WKN: A14N8Q, ISIN: DE000A14N8Q7). It turned out that his thesis subject, initially of pure mathematical motivation with applications in medical imaging, such as in the Visible Human Project, became instrumental for the management strategy of his fund.

From left: Richard D. Voss, Terry Perciante, Evan Maletsky, and I (Lee Yunker had passed away at the time of this picture). This was the core team for many mathematics teacher enhancement activities at Fermi Lab in Chicago, Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, NCTM, and eventually in South Florida funded by the NSF (A and B) for almost two decades from 1994 to 2012.

January 2015 we celebrated 25 years of Lehrerakademie e.V. Bremen.

My math teacher friends Reimund Albers, Heidi Christiansen, Gisela Gruendl, Claudia Homburg, Klaus Lies and I together with the shakespeare company bremen and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen conducted some 25 national annual teacher enhancement activities in Bremen.  The NSF work in South Florida galvanized our German activities in 1991 and exceeded it by integrating music and theater activities into mathematical activities. 


Dietmar Saupe (center) and Hartmut Jürgens were my first graduate students (and later doctoral students) at the University of Bremen. They eventually became significant in our numerical and computer graphical work. Hartmut became responsible for our early labs, starting in 1981, and all its successors. He eventually became deputy director of CeVis, Center for Complex Systems and Visualization, and played a significant role in founding MeVis Research GmbH in 1995. Dietmar joined me and played siginificant roles on my two life changing sabbaticals at the University of Utah and when I assumed a professorship at the University of California in Santa Cruz. 

Black was my favorite dress color at the end of the 1980s, when I was a Harley enthusiast for several years, which produced some unexpected consequences regarding the dressing style of Dr. Ian Malcolm in the movie Jurassic Park. 


From Mathematics to

Chaos and Fractals and

on to Medical Image Computing

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