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Muslim Culture

WAISers have argued about the merits of Muslim culture. This report quoted by John Gehl calls our attention to the Italian mathematician Leonardo of Pisa, (1170-1250), also called Fibonacci. He was probably the greatest and most productive of medieval mathematicians. Born in Pisa, Italy, he was the son of Guilielmo Bonacci, a ecretary of the Republic of Pisa responsible for directing the Pisan trading colony in Bugia, Algeria. In 1192 Fibonacci joined his father in Bugia to begin a career as a merchant. His father arranged for him to travel widely on Pisan business throughout Egypt, Syria, Greece, Sicily and Provence. In the course of his travels he acquired knowledge of the mathematical techniques used in business transactions in these regions.

When he returned to Pisa in 1250, he made mathematics his major intellectual interest. Over the next 25 years, he wrote a series of original works on problems in arithmetic, geometry and algebra. In his Liber Abaci (Book on the Abacus), he explained the advantages of the "Hindu-Arabic numerals" over the cumbersome letter notation inherited from the Greeks and Romans. He also explained the value of zero and the place-value number system. Much of this knowledge had been brought to Europe a century earlier by Adelard of Bath, but it was Fibonacci's treatise that marked the true starting point for the gradual acceptance of Arabic notation" John Wonder might argue that, since the system originally came from India, that proves Muslin culture is derivative..

Ronald Hilton - 10/30/01