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Fibonacci: A Great Mathematician of the Past,
A Great Tool of the Future

 

The word Fibonacci means a lot of things for a lot of different people.  For mathematicians, Fibonacci is an important number sequence.  For some painters, sculptors, and other visual artists, Fibonacci is a principle of the arts.  For traders, businessmen, economists and the like, Fibonacci is a system, and now a software, that can efficiently predict market trends.  Yet, for most of us, Fibonacci sounds like a complex thing that we'd rather not discover.  But what exactly is Fibonacci?  What does it mean and for what is it used?

Fibonacci, which means son of Bonacci, is actually a nickname used by the famous Italian mathematician and businessman Leonardo Pisano.  Bonacci, on the other hand, is the nickname of his father and it means 'good natured' or 'simple'.  While Fibonacci was born in Italy, he spent most of his childhood years in Bugia (now Bejaia), a Mediterranean port in Algeria where his father, Guilielmo, worked as a consul for the merchants of Pisa.  It is in Bugia where he learned the Arabic numeral system, and later as he traversed the rest of the Mediterranean world, he learned more of the Arabic mathematical system and its practical uses.

Fibonacci

In 1200, Fibonacci ended his travels and returned to Europe.  There he wrote a number of books that disclosed the mathematical skills he have learned in his Mediterranean travels.  Among his works that were published are the Practica Geometriae, Flos, Liber quadratorum, Di minor guisa, and his commentary on Book X of Euclid's Elements; the last two mentioned, unfortunately, are already lost.  His Liber quadratorum, or Book of Squares, is probably his most magnificent book, but it was not his most popular work.  His most popular work was rather the Liber Abaci, his first book that was written in 1202 where he introduced to the Europeans the Arabic numerical and mathematical system.  In this book, he also taught the Europeans how to use such mathematical system in accounting and in trading.  Most importantly, it is in the Liber Abaci where he introduced the Fibonacci numbers and sequence for which he is best remembered today.

The Fibonacci numbers, or sequence, was first used in Liber Abaci as a solution to a problem regarding the ideal population of rabbits.  It is a recursive number sequence that starts with 0 and 1, and the succeeding numbers being the sum of the two numbers preceding it.  This number sequence efficiently predicted the ideal growth of the population of rabbits.  Later, mathematicians and scientist discovered that the Fibonacci number sequence has a lot of other uses aside from just predicting the population growth of rabbits.  They have discovered that the Fibonacci sequence, in fact, occurs in many various patterns of nature.

What started out as a way of counting rabbits has now found a lot of other uses and applications.  And as our present day scholars continue to study about the Fibonacci sequence, more and more uses for it continue to be discovered.  Today, there are a variety of applications where the Fibonacci sequence, and its derivatives, is being used.  It has found use in many computer programs.  A ratio derived from the Fibonacci sequence, called the Golden Mean, has been considered by ancient Greeks to be the ideal aesthetic ratio and is now being widely used by many visual artists in their works.  The Fibonacci trading, which is an efficient way of predicting future trends in the world market, has also become popular to expert traders and aspiring traders as well.

Who in the past might have known that such a simple number sequence like the Fibonacci numbers would have a great impact on a lot of things today?  Maybe, not even Fibonacci.

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