Leonardo of Pisa (Fibonacci): Biography, Facts & Accomplishments

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson introduces you to the life and accomplishments of Leonardo of Pisa. You might know him better as Fibonacci. This lesson also explains where the latter name might have come from.

Fibonacci

Whether you're a big math nerd or you're really into the technical analysis of stocks, you have definitely heard of Fibonacci or the Fibonacci sequence. Well, you may not know everything about him, but you've certainly read, heard, or used the term.

In this lesson, we're going to go over the life and work of this famous man.

Early Life & Education

Leonardo Fibonacci, also known as Leonardo of Pisa or Leonardo Pisano was born sometime around 1175 in Pisa, Italy into the Bonacci family. You many Pisa from its associated Leaning Tower of Pisa, whose earliest construction started right around the time of Fibonacci's birth.

Although born in Pisa, Fibonacci was actually brought up in Bugia, Algeria. That's because when Fibonacci was little, his father, Guglielmo, was a merchant. Guglielmo was given the responsibility of overseeing a network of Pisan merchants in North Africa, specifically in Bugia.

Fibonacci studied calculation with an Arab teacher and then traveled around to Sicily, Greece, Syria, and Egypt to study even more calculation and numerical systems. Partly as a result of this, Fibonacci sometimes used the nickname of 'Bigollo', which may mean traveler.

A monument to Fibonacci.
A monument to Fibonacci.

Later Life and Accomplishments

Around 1200, Fibonacci finally settled down in Pisa and wrote numerous important texts on mathematics. The ones that have survived to this day include:

  • Liber abaci (1202 CE), which covered Fibonacci's knowledge of algebra and arithmetic, as well as how merchants can calculate profits, convert between currencies, and more.
  • Practica geometriae (1220 CE), which focuses on geometry problems and practical information for surveyors.
  • Flos (1225 CE), where Fibonacci analyzes various mathematical problems.
  • Liber quadratorum (1225 CE), a book on number theory.

Thanks to his works, Fibonacci helped introduce Europe (beyond a few intellectuals) to concepts we nowadays take for granted, like:

  • Using the numbers 0 - 9 in calculations
  • Operations using integers and fractions
  • The extraction of roots
  • How to apply this math to transactions

Fibonacci Sequence

Fibonacci is perhaps most famous for the Fibonacci sequence, a term actually coined in the 19th century. The Fibonacci sequence is a number sequence where each number is the sum of the preceding two:

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13,…

This number sequence has been found and used in numerous mathematical, natural and scientific applications. It's also been used to trade stocks, by those interested in the so-called technical analysis of stocks and markets.

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