Who Was Fibonacci?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Fibonacci, known in his day as Leonardo of Pisa, was an Italian mathematician who lived during the Middle Ages. He is widely regarded as the finest mathematician of his age, and although little is known about him, most of us use the contributions of Fibonacci to society every day. In addition to the classical sequence of numbers named after him, Fibonacci also brought the use of Arabic numerals to the West, along with the use of decimal points. These two math features are often taken for granted today, but they were revolutionary in the Middle Ages.

Fibonacci brought Arabic numerals to the West, replacing the Roman numeral system.
Fibonacci brought Arabic numerals to the West, replacing the Roman numeral system.

Leonardo of Pisa lived from approximately 1170 to 1250. His father was nicknamed Bonacchio, meaning simple or good, and Fibonacci was nicknamed for his father — Fi'Bonacchi means “son of Bonacchio.” Fibonacci's knowledge of the world was initiated at a young age, because his father was a trader, allowing the son to travel extensively during his youth. Fibonacci's travels undoubtedly introduced him to the Arabic numeral system, along with Middle Eastern math concepts and breakthroughs.

The introduction of Arabic numerals to the West was a major breakthrough. Previously, people used Roman numerals, which were very difficult to work with, especially when complex equations were involved. Fibonacci showed that all numbers could be represented with just 10 digits, and that these digits could be moved and manipulated easily for division, multiplication, and complex equations. This laid the groundwork for modern mathematics.

The Fibonacci sequence is a series of numbers which are mathematically related to each other. Many people know at least the first few numbers in the sequence, which begins with: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and continues with each number being the sum of the previous two numbers. The Fibonacci sequence is used to describe a number of phenomena, such as the golden ratio and the tendency of plants to grow in spirals, maximizing their efficiency in a neat Fibonacci sequence. It should be noted that Fibonacci did not discover this sequence, but he does deserve credit for introducing it to the West from India.

During his time, Fibonacci became quite a celebrated figure, thanks to his accomplishments in mathematics and his performance at math games and contests. His most famous work is probably the Liber Abaci, published in 1202. This treatise on arithmetic introduced a number of concepts to the West, along with some intriguing math problems which continue to be posed to students of mathematics today.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Did Fibonacci have any children?


Fibonacci used numbers like this: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13. He added the number to the number before.


How did the people in that time use the math that was discovered by Fibonacci?


how old was he when he died?


what is Fibonacci's most famous nature sequence?


What besides mathematics was Fibonacci interested in?


When did he die?


How old was he when he died?


Fibonacci in one of his books the book of squares as an authors note it said he was having "serious lung and back issues" and that this book was his last.


hey guys. i just wanted to know how Fibonacci discovered Fibonacci numbers.


i heard he died around 1226


I have a project to do on Fibonacci and our rubric requires an exact birthdate and an exact deathdate. I have been searching google for a while now and nothing seems to say the date, just the year. Please help me! -Aint this internet so easy!


Anonymous - Well the article states that he lived from about 1170 to 1250. So that would be about 80. The truth is that little is known about the death of Fibonacci. The record seems to have gone silent as of 1240. So, in the end it's not clear.


how old was he when he died?

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