Dr. Keith Devlin is a 21st-century mathematician whose career treads a pathway parallel to that of the 13th-century mathematical genius, Master Leonardo Bigollo de Pisa, known as Fibonacci. Like Fibonacci, Devlin achieved fame as a public expositor of mathematics, and they both share the same passion and ambition as Euclid for communicating difficult, abstract mathematical concepts in a way that people outside the discipline find them comprehensible and personally applicable. In Finding Fibonacci: The Quest to Rediscover the Forgotten Mathematical Genius Who Changed the World, Devlin provides background for both himself and Fibonacci, then dives into his hunt for more evidence of the accomplishments and life of the medieval mathematician, including extant copies of his most famous works. The modern math historian explains in detail why Fibonacci was worth remembering as well as how he was forgotten; he does so in such a compelling way that the reader is entirely grateful that a modern translation in 2002 was finally published despite daunting obstacles. Modern mathematicians will find the appendix, containing summaries of each chapter in Liber Abaci, particularly helpful.
Just as Devlin teaches and reaches diverse audiences worldwide through his many books, articles, lectures, research projects, and radio appearances, Finding Fibonacci was written for a general audience, and anyone remotely interested in math will enjoy this book. Those who are specifically interested in math, history, and/or math history will find it especially entertaining.
Devlin’s writing style is as powerful and engaging as his expository strategy. He organized the material in Finding Fibonacci as a storyteller would, presenting himself as someone who embarked upon a ten-year quest, facing and overcoming obstacles, to obtain a treasure. The structure and strategy is effective; I not only admire Devlin’s ability to share an adventure, but I also became enamored with the humble and kind Fibonacci. I even shared the same excitement Devlin experienced when he was finally able to see and read Liber Abaci in person. Moreover, I enjoyed Finding Fibonacci so much that I was motivated to do earnest research of my own, finding and learning much more about math and ancient mathematicians in a few months than I had in all my previous years. I am confident this is the kind of response for which both Devlin and Fibonacci had hoped.
Dr. Keith Devlin is a mathematician, author, educator, and math historian; he is also the Executive Director of the Human-Sciences and Technologies Advanced Research Institute (H-STAR) at Stanford University, which focuses on the ways in which people and technology interact. Co-founder of the educational technology company BrainQuake, he also created the Massive Open Online Course, Introduction to Mathematical Thinking, and blogs regularly for mathematically-inclined readers. He is known to millions of NPR listeners as “The Math Guy” on Weekend Edition with Scott Simon, and his current research is focused on the development, creation, and use of different media to teach and communicate mathematics to diverse audiences.
His most recent books are Introduction to Mathematical Thinking, Mathematics Education for a New Era: Video Games as a Medium for Learning (AK Peters/CRC Press), The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci’s Arithmetic Revolution (Walker & Co), and an e-book short, Leonardo and Steve: The Young Genius Who Beat Apple to Market by 800 Years.
Devlin, Keith. Finding Fibonacci: The Quest to Rediscover the Forgotten Mathematical Genius Who Changed the World, Princeton University Press (March 2017).
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Paperback: 128 pages
Author: Shelley Allen, M.A.Ed.
Publisher: Fibonacci Inc.; 1st edition (2019)