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Who Was Fibonacci?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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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.

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.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

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

Discussion Comments
By anon323115 — On Mar 03, 2013

Did Fibonacci have any children?

By anon304761 — On Nov 21, 2012

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

By anon271251 — On May 25, 2012

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

By anon108703 — On Sep 03, 2010

how old was he when he died?

By anon72045 — On Mar 21, 2010

what is Fibonacci's most famous nature sequence?

By anon59973 — On Jan 11, 2010

What besides mathematics was Fibonacci interested in?

By anon56674 — On Dec 16, 2009

When did he die?

By anon55907 — On Dec 10, 2009

How old was he when he died?

By anon46178 — On Sep 23, 2009

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.

By anon25232 — On Jan 26, 2009

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

By anon24979 — On Jan 21, 2009

i heard he died around 1226

By anon11428 — On Apr 16, 2008

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!

By rjohnson — On Feb 06, 2008

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.

By anon5516 — On Nov 27, 2007

how old was he when he died?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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