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The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci's Arithmetic Revolution

The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci's Arithmetic Revolution - Keith J. Devlin "The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci's Arithmetic Revolution" enthusiastically summarizes the little that is known about Leonardo of Pisa, later more famously called Fibonacci. Those who read medieval primary texts have become used to the dearth of direct evidence related to such texts, as well as the admirable, if Herculean, labors medievalists are forced to perform to prove the most basic biographical details. In the case of Leonardo of Pisa, the proof for his role in the "arithmetic revolution" has been fairly well-established, and is nicely summarized here. Well-known for his Fibonacci sequence, his greater contribution may have been the role he played in the transmission of arithmetic and algebra from Moslem North Africa to medieval Italy. Interestingly, this transmission appears to have proceeded along two tracks: First, in a formal, Latin primer on algebra--the famous Liber Abaci (1202)--via the educated elite, and second, through transmission to the Tuscan mercantile community in a format more suitable for the problems that would interest them via a lost primer--Di minor guisa--on commercial arithmetic for the "abbacus schools." Thus, Leonardo of Pisa seems to have played a significant role in both the rebirth of classical arithmetic and science, and the economic revolution that was already beginning to pull much of Italy into its cultural renaissance.