When Fabonacci (c.1170-c.1250) acquired the open secret that revolutionized western arithmetic, he was just a young boy from Pisa traveling with his father in North Africa. It was there that he learned the Hindu-Arabic number system that he would come to realize was far preferable to the cumbersome system of Roman numerals. In 1202, he sat down to compose Liber abbaci (The Book of Calculation), a text that would facilitate business transactions and thus spur commerce of every conceivable type. Keith Devlin's The Man of Numbers recaptures the man behind the numbers we all take for granted.
The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci's Arithmetic Revolutionby Keith Devlin
Leonardo of Pisa-better known today as Fibonacci-was the first Westerner to recognize the power of the Hindu-Arabic number system (featuring the numerals 0 through 9), which offered a much simpler method of calculation than the finger reckoning and cumbersome Roman numerals used at the time. His book Liberabbaci (The book of Calculation) remade the/i>/i>… See more details below
Leonardo of Pisa-better known today as Fibonacci-was the first Westerner to recognize the power of the Hindu-Arabic number system (featuring the numerals 0 through 9), which offered a much simpler method of calculation than the finger reckoning and cumbersome Roman numerals used at the time. His book Liberabbaci (The book of Calculation) remade the West as the dominant force in science, technology, and large-scale international commerce. Leonardo of Pisa is best known today for discovering the Fibonacci sequence of numbers appearing in biological structures throughout nature, but despite the ubiquity of his discoveries, he has largely slipped from the pages of history. Keith Devlin re-creates the life and enduring legacy of this brilliant yet overlooked mathematician.
- Walker & Company
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Meet the Author
Keith Devlin is a Senior Researcher and Executive Director at Stanford's H-STAR institute, which he co-founded. He is also a Consulting Professor in the Department of Mathematics, and a co-founder of the Stanford Media X research network. NPR's "Math Guy," he is the author of more than twenty-eight books, including The Math Gene. He lives in Palo Alto, California.
- Palo Alto, California
- Date of Birth:
- March 16, 1947
- Place of Birth:
- Hull, England
- B.S., King's College, London, 1968; Ph.D., University of Bristol, 1971
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In about the year of 1170 a man named Leonardo was born in Pisa. Opening a book he wrote in 1202 he referred to himself as Leonardo Pisano, Family Bonacci, from this Latin phrase filus Bonacci his present day nickname ¿Fibonacci¿ was coined by a historian in 1838. Fibonacci is usually remembered only in connection with the ¿Fibonacci sequence¿ however, in this fine book Keith Devlin carefully outlines his role as a towering figure in the movement of Hindu-Arabic numerals and arithmetic from the southern Mediterranean into Italy where it spread into Europe. The system was known in Italy before Fibonacci was born but it had was little used and not seen as being of value. It was the achievement of Fibonacci in his books to describe the system in terms of the problems encountered by merchants. He provided page after page of problems that involved trade, the measurement of land, the division of profits and the exchange of one form of money for another. Each problem was carefully worked out with the problem described in the text and the numbers presented in red in the margin. Fibonacci had written the first practical math textbook and it was copied over and over again by other authors. With real world examples such as ¿On finding the worth of Florentine Rolls when the worth of those of Genoa is known¿ he had written the first book on the Hindu-Arabic system that had popular appeal. The type of book that we all use to learn basic arithmetic is the direct descendant of this type of writing. The story of the development of math and math learning is very well told in this most enjoyable book. It in no way requires a math background or skills to read and enjoy. I recommend it to anyone who likes a good story of how our world came to be.
This book is poorly organized and the information is hidden in a jumbled mass of words. It doesn't even talk about the the work of Fibonacci in detail until page 61. It is confusing and takes time talking about unnecessary topics. Overall this book gives very little useful information and that itself is hidden. I would not recommend this book to anyone.
I liked this book. It did a good job of providing some history of the early 1200's, making it easy to understand how Liber Abbaci became so influential. In addition, I learned how difficult it is to do scholarly work on this book. My only suggested changes to "The Man of Numbers" are: (1) include a map, to make it easy to see the locations described in the book and (2) provide some side-by-side examples of math using Roman numbers and using Hindi-Arabic numbers, to make it easy to see how much easier it is to do math by using the latter.