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The Man of Numbers Fibonacci's Arithmetic Revolution

Walker Books




192 Pages



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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.


Praise for The Man of Numbers

"Readers . . . will discover a legacy that extends across eight centuries to the textbooks of schoolchildren today and the numbers that run the modern world."—Science News

"Fascinating . . . Devlin presents a convincing argument to show that Fionacci did nothing less than start the modern arithmetic revolution"—The Commercial Dispatch (Columbus)

"Three cheers for Leonardo Pisano . . . A wonderful book for history-of-science buffs."—Kirkus Reviews
"Devlin illuminates one of the most remarkable and underappreciated episodes in cultural history . . . A surprising visit to a forgotten wellspring of modern thought."—Booklist (starred review)

"A fascinating book reminiscent of Dava Sobel's Longitude"—Barnes and Noble Review

Reviews from Goodreads



  • 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.