Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



Reader 1

Lesley Ward

Reader 2

Henry Krieger


Complex dynamics is the study of iteration of functions which map the complex plane onto itself. In general, their dynamics are quite complicated and hard to explain but for some simple classes of functions many interesting results can be proved. For example, one often studies the class of rational functions (i.e. quotients of polynomials) or, even more specifically, polynomials. Each such function f partitions the extended complex plane C into two regions, one where iteration of the function is chaotic and one where it is not. The nonchaotic region, called the Fatou Set, is the set of all points z such that, under iteration by f, the point z and all its neighbors do approximately the same thing. The remainder of the complex plane is called the Julia set and consists of those points which do not behave like all closely neighboring points. The Julia set of a polynomial typically has a complicated, self similar structure. Many questions can be asked about this structure. The one that we seek to investigate is the notion of the dimension of the Julia set. While the dimension of a line segment, disc, or cube is familiar, there are sets for which no integer dimension seems reasonable. The notion of Hausdorff dimension gives a reasonable way of assigning appropriate non-integer dimensions to such sets. Our goal is to investigate the behavior of the Hausdorff dimension of the Julia sets of a certain simple class of polynomials, namely fd,c(z) = zd + c. In particular, we seek to determine for what values of c and d the Hausdorff dimension of the Julia set varies continuously with c. Roughly speaking, given a fixed integer d > 1 and some complex c, do nearby values of c have Julia sets with Hausdorff dimension relatively close to each other? We find that for most values of c, the Hausdorff dimension of the Julia set does indeed vary continuously with c. However, we shall also construct an infinite set of discontinuities for each d. Our results are summarized in Theorem 10, Chapter 2. In Chapter 1 we state and briefly explain the terminology and definitions we use for the remainder of the paper. In Chapter 2 we will state the main theorems we prove later and deduce from them the desired continuity properties. In Chapters 3 we prove the major results of this paper.

shaas-2003-prop.pdf (46 kB)
Thesis Proposal