“In 2000, Keith Devlin began investigating the life and contributions of Leonardo of Pisa, sometimes known as Fibonacci, a famous medieval mathematician whose book Liber abaci literally changed the course of human history. Fibonacci’s biggest contribution was as an expositor of mathematical concepts at a level that laypeople could grasp, despite the fact that he is most known for the Fibonacci numbers, which he didn’t actually create. Liber abaci, also known as the “Book of Calculation,” brought contemporary arithmetic to the Western world around 1202. However, following his passing, Fibonacci was mostly forgotten, and it wasn’t until the 1960s that his full contributions were eventually acknowledged.
Devlin’s riveting first-person narrative of his ten-year search to convey Fibonacci’s tale, Finding Fibonacci, is available online. Devlin chronicled the project, a math expositor himself, in a diary, which he used to discuss the project’s highs and lows, its false beginnings and disappointments, the tragedies and unexpected turns, some amusing stories, and the infrequent lucky breaks. Also included are the fascinating characters Devlin came across along the road, people like the Yale professor who linked modern banking back to Fibonacci and the Italian historian who made the vital archive discovery that tied together all the disparate threads of Fibonacci’s amazing story.