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Showing 1-5 of 5 reviews(4 star, verified purchases). Show all reviews
on December 25, 2011
Very often, an expert in his/her field is not also gifted with the ability to write in an interesting manner in order to share the special knowledge he/she has gained in their years of study, but Keith Devlin has written a very readable and informative book on the introduction, in 1202, of numbers to the Western world. Even though details of Fibonacci's life are sketchy, the story is how he brought math as we know it to Europe, and Devlin does a fine job in this exhaustively researched little book. I'm an accountant, and it's hard to believe we didn't have numbers before 800 years ago! I wonder whether the Rennaisance would have flowered if we hadn't had numbers?
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on August 30, 2011
The writing style is pleasing and the story intriguing, but some parts repeated a couple of times. Overall, it was a good buy.

EDIT: I was disappointed to not see mention of the critical mistake Fibonacci made and from which the world has since suffered: he didn't reverse the digit order. The arabs from which he learned the numbers wrote (and write) prose right-to-left and the numbers also, meaning the least significant digits came first ("little endian" in computer terms).

When Fibonacci brought the numbers to the western world he kept the same digit order as his source, which means we now write numbers most significant digit first. One of the practical implication is that formatting column of numbers in the middle of prose is awkward as we need to pad them to the greatest length.
Example

Sales by month
Jan $1000
Feb $20000
Mar $890005

where we could have been writing

Sales by month
Jan $0001
Feb $00002
Mar $500098
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on April 23, 2013
This book is one of many recent works that labors to dispel the illusion that there was a wall between Muslim cultures and 'western' European culture. The two cultures were indeed in constant peaceful contact through the world of commerce, it was this contact that eventually allowed the west to advance technologically and intellectually. This book's focus is specifically on the mathematical knowledge transmitted from east to west. The book does a great job telling the story but the main complaint (for me) is that some of the examples the author delves into are slightly opaque. If you love numbers and are, more mathematical than I am you will probably not see fault!
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on November 4, 2013
The text combines history and mathematics in an easily understood fashion. I enjoyed reading about the Italian whom brought numbers to Europeans.
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on March 28, 2015
Funnumberology,no notnumerology.
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