Our tenth A&S Research Paper comes to us from Lady Rosina von Schaffhausen, of the Shire of Quintavia. She introduces us to a fascinating figure from the 13th century – the mathematician Leonardo of Pisa, known most familiarly to us as Fibonacci. (Prospective future contributors, please check out our original Call for Papers.)
Fibonacci – A Master By Any Name
Imagine being an Italian merchant in the early 13th century, traveling around the Mediterranean. You visit fascinating places, eat new and unusual foods, see many exotic sights, and trade many of the goods passing through the region.
However, you have a problem. The basic addition and subtraction you need to do to keep your account books you can handle, using the tools you have available, Roman numerals and an abacus. But doing any sort of multiplication or division is difficult. And you need to multiply, or divide, or sometimes both, to do all sorts of important things. You need them to determine how much cinnamon your pepper is worth, how much of your profits each of your investors should receive, how much your cut is, to calculate currency exchange, and to determine how much interest you have earned on the loan your city forced you to give them to build their navy. The methods you know seem much more difficult to deal with than the Arab merchants’ system.
On your next stop at home, a friend is raving about the new system of Hindu reckoning in a book written by one of your compatriots, and you resolve to find a copy and learn this new system…