The Man of Numbers by Keith Devlin
Fibonacci's Arithmetic Revolution

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Synopsis

In 1202, a 32-year old Italian finished one of the most influential books of all time, which introduced modern arithmetic to Western Europe. Devised in India in the 7th and 8th centuries and brought to North Africa by Muslim traders, the Hindu-Arabic system helped transform the West into the dominant force in science, technology, and commerce, leaving behind Muslim cultures which had long known it but had failed to see its potential.


The young Italian, Leonardo of Pisa (better known today as Fibonacci), had learned the Hindu number system when he traveled to North Africa with his father, a customs agent. The book he created was Liber abbaci, the "Book of Calculation," and the revolution that followed its publication was enormous. Arithmetic made it possible for ordinary people to buy and sell goods, convert currencies, and keep accurate records of possessions more readily than ever before. Liber abbaci's publication led directly to large-scale international commerce and the scientific revolution of the Renaissance.


Yet despite the ubiquity of his discoveries, Leonardo of Pisa remains an enigma. His name is best known today in association with an exercise in Liber abbaci whose solution gives rise to a sequence of numbers--the Fibonacci sequence--used by some to predict the rise and fall of financial markets, and evident in myriad biological structures.


One of the great math popularizers of our time, Keith Devlin recreates the life and enduring legacy of an overlooked genius, and in the process makes clear how central numbers and mathematics are to our daily lives.
 

About Keith Devlin

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Born in England in 1947 and living in America since 1987, Keith Devlin has written more than 20 books and numerous research articles on various elements of mathematics. From 1983 to 1989, he wrote a column on for the Manchester (England) Guardian. The collected columns are published in All the Math That's Fit to Print (1994) and cover a wide range of topics from calculating travel expenses to calculating pi. His book Logic and Information (1991) is an introduction to situation theory and situation semantics for mathematicians. Co-author of the PBS Nova episode "A Mathematical Mystery Tour," he is also the author of Devlin's Angle, a column on the Mathematical Association of America's electronic journal. Devlin lives in California, where he is dean of the school of science at Saint Mary's College in Morgana. He is currently studying the use of mathematics to analyze communication and information flow in the workplace.
 
Published July 5, 2011 by Walker Books. 192 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Science & Math, Education & Reference, Travel, Children's Books, Humor & Entertainment, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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And in the second month those born to bear also.” A wonderful book for history-of-science buffs that will also amuse math teachers, because the many problems and solutions included are simply medieval versions of the word problems that are the bane of many high-school students.

Jul 05 2011 | Read Full Review of The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci...

The Guardian

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Fibonacci was born in the 12th century, when a number of exceptionally efficient popes were organising Europe in a way that hadn't been managed for many generations.

Nov 27 2011 | Read Full Review of The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci...

BC Books

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"Man of Numbers" and "Fibonacci" get star billing in the title but, fact is, the whole book contains just enough hard facts about Fibonacci the man to make a decent-sized caption under a picture of Fibonacci in Who's Who.

Sep 21 2011 | Read Full Review of The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci...

The Wall Street Journal

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Fibonacci saw that complex math required a better system.

Jul 07 2011 | Read Full Review of The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci...

Science News

Leonardo of Pisa, also known as Fibonacci, is best remembered today for introducing a sequence of numbers: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5 and so on, each number after 0 and 1 equaling the sum of the two before it.

Aug 12 2011 | Read Full Review of The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci...

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