The Man of Numbers: Fibonaccis Arithmetic Revolution

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The Mathematical Intelligencer. The materials and details about Leonardo are actually contained in the first book, which has been much cited and mentioned throughout this second one.

These two books could have possibly been combined into a single and more concise exposition. Aside from the short chapter on modern finance and the appendix on how to read the chapters of Liber Abbaci , no new material about Leonardo is contained in Finding Fibonacci.

Readers may find the first book more informative if they are interested in learning about the life and work of this twelfth-century mathematician. Although written in a very engaging and readable manner, these books contain some errors that readers need to be aware of. Devlin succumbs to historical presentism, viewing the mathematical practices of the past through the same lens as those of modern specialized university research mathematicians.

Our number system of 50s and twos originated in India, and not solely for reasons we'd expect.

The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci's Arithmetic Revolution - Keith Devlin - Google книги

The concept of "0", for example, seems to have first appeared in a treatise called the Brahmasphutasiddhanta — "The Opening of the Universe" — as part of a religious quest to explain how important changes could occur to the universe that left its essence intact. These researchers, too, were motivated by a belief that it was their obligation to investigate God's immanence in the world, in this numerical way as much as any other.

And phi? In Fibonacci's mind, this was the least of his contributions. Its origin was a word problem he copied from yet another source, looking at the rate at which rabbits reproduce. The offspring can be counted by the sequence 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, each number created by adding together the two that went before it. Since this sequence arises naturally from how objects accumulate, it appears in a number of other places.

Fibonacci: A man of numbers

Stare closely at sunflower heads or pinecones and you'll find spirals that follow it exactly. Phi is generated by dividing any number in the sequence by the number that came before it: 8 divided by 5 is a rough approximation, 13 divided by 8 is better, 21 divided by 13 better still, and so on.

However, as Devlin shows, the idea that Fibonacci discovered this ratio is bogus: many mathematicians before him had been aware of it. And its supposedly magical properties? It turns out to be a fantasy that phi describes the exact proportions of the Parthenon or Leonardo's paintings.

A conclusion that will disappoint romantics, perhaps, but a useful reminder of the hold that dreams of a mystical truth lying just beyond our reach have always had over mankind. Text from the publisher. Like this: Like Loading Leave a Comment. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:.

Finding Fibonacci

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