The story of numbers in the West begins in 1202 when the construction of the Chartres cathedral was nearing its end, and King John Plantagenet ended his third year of reign in England. That year, a book called Liber Abaci, the Computing Book, appeared in Italy.
The fifteen chapters of the book were entirely written by hand; it was only after about three hundred years that the pattern would be invented. Leonardo Pisano, the author of the book, was only 27 years old but was born under a lucky star: his book was to be supported by Frederick II, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. No author could have a greater honor.
For most of his life, Leonardo Pisano was known as Fibonacci, the name he is recognized today. His father’s family name was Bonacio, and Fibonacci is a shortcut to Bonacio’s son.
Fibonacci was inspired to write Liber Abaci after a visit to Bugia, a thriving algerian town where his father was the consul of Pisa. During his stay there, an Arab mathematician had revealed the wonders of the Indo-Arab numerical system that Arab mathematicians had introduced to the West during the Crusades.
When he saw the calculations the Arab system used – and which would have been impossible by using the Roman system -, Fibonacci wanted to find out about it. Wishing to learn from the best mathematicians living around the Mediterranean Sea, Fibonacci embarked on a journey that took him to Egypt, Syria, Greece, Sicily, and Provence.
The result was a book that can be considered extraordinary from any point of view. Liber Abaci depicted a completely new world for people, where the numbers could replace the Hebrew, Greek and Roman systems in which the counts and counts were done with the letters. The book quickly enjoyed the interest of mathematicians in Italy as well as across Europe.