Academic journal article Australian Mathematics Teacher

The Indian Numbers

Academic journal article Australian Mathematics Teacher

The Indian Numbers

Article excerpt

Leonardo Fibonacci's father directed- a trading post in Algeria where he v observed Arab traders doing calculations without needing to use an abacus. Instead of the Roman numerals that were being used in Europe, the merchant were using a new kind of number system, which they had learned from the Indian Hindus. The man was impressed and arranged for his young son to join him' to learn the new method.

Later, Fibonacci spent many years travelling the Mediterranean area and studying mathematics before returning to Italy in 1200. Two years later, he published Liber Abaci and introduced Hindu-Arabic numerals to the West. In it he wrote'

"My father took charge and in view of its future usefulness and convenience, had me in my boyhood come to him and there wanted me to devote myself to and be instructed in the study of calculation for some days.... There, when I had been introduced to the art of the Indians' nine symbols through remarkable teaching, knowledge of the art very soon pleased me above all else."

Liber Abaci was widely copied in a time when books were reproduced by hand. Amongst its many problems is this one which gave rise to the sequence that is named after Fibonacci'

"A man puts a pair of baby rabbits in an enclosed place. …

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