A self-similar object is exactly or approximately similar to a part of itself. Many objects in the real world, such as coastlines, are statistically self-similar: parts of them show the same statistical properties at many scales.
Self-similarity is a property of fractals and has important consequences for the design of computer networks, as typical network traffic has self-similar properties. This property means that simple models using a Poisson distribution are inaccurate, and networks designed without taking self-similarity into account are likely to function in unexpected ways.
- Leland et. al. On the self-similar nature of Ethernet traffic IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking Volume 2, Issue 1 (February 1994)