Koch snowflake is a fractal curve and one of the earliest fractals to have been described. It is based on the Koch curve, which appeared in a 1904 paper titled “On a Continuous Curve Without Tangents, Constructible from Elementary Geometry” by the Swedish mathematician Helge von Koch.
The Koch snowflake can be constructed by starting with an equilateral triangle, then recursively altering each line segment as follows:
- divide the line segment into three segments of equal length.
- draw an equilateral triangle that has the middle segment from step 1 as its base and points outward.
- remove the line segment that is the base of the triangle from step 2.
The first iteration of this process produces the outline of a hexagram.
The Koch snowflake is the limit approached as the above steps are followed indefinitely. The Koch curve originally described by Helge von Koch is constructed using only one of the three sides of the original triangle. In other words, three Koch curves make a Koch snowflake.
A Koch curve–based representation of a nominally flat surface can similarly be created by repeatedly segmenting each line in a sawtooth pattern of segments with a given angle.
The areas enclosed by the successive stages in the construction of the snowflake converge to 8/5 times the area of the original triangle, while the perimeters of the successive stages increase without bound. Consequently, the snowflake encloses a finite area, but has an infinite perimeter.
It is possible to tessellate the plane by copies of Koch snowflakes in two different sizes. However, such a tessellation is not possible using only snowflakes of one size.
Since each Koch snowflake in the tessellation can be subdivided into seven smaller snowflakes of two different sizes, it is also possible to find tessellations that use more than two sizes at once. Koch snowflakes and Koch antisnowflakes of the same size may be used to tile the plane.
The Koch curve is continuous everywhere, but differentiable nowhere.