# Chapter 13: Fibonacci Numbers and the Golden Ratio

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1 Chapter 13: Fibonacci Numbers and the Golden Ratio 13.1 Fibonacci Numbers THE FIBONACCI SEQUENCE 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, The sequence of numbers shown above is called the Fibonacci sequence, and the individual numbers in the sequence are known as the Fibonacci numbers. Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Fibonacci Sequence You should recognize these numbers as the number of pairs of rabbits in Fibonacci s rabbit problem as we counted them from one month to the next. The Fibonacci sequence is infinite, and except for the first two 1s, each number in the sequence is the sum of the two numbers before it. Fibonacci Number We will denote each Fibonacci number by using the letter F (for Fibonacci) and a subscript that indicates the position of the number in the sequence. In other words, the first Fibonacci number is F 1 = 1, the second Fibonacci number is F 2 = 1, the third Fibonacci number is F 3 = 2, the tenth Fibonacci number is F 10 = 55. We may not know (yet) the numerical value of the 100th Fibonacci number, but at least we can describe it as F 100. Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Fibonacci Number A generic Fibonacci number is usually written as F N (where N represents a generic position). If we want to describe the Fibonacci number that comes before F N we write F N 1 ; the Fibonacci number two places before F N is F N 2, and so on. Clearly, this notation allows us to describe relations among the Fibonacci numbers in a clear and concise way that would be hard to match by just using words. Fibonacci Number The rule that generates Fibonacci numbers a Fibonacci number equals the sum of the two preceding Fibonacci numbers is called a recursive rule because it defines a number in the sequence using earlier numbers in the sequence. Using subscript notation, the above recursive rule can be expressed by the simple and concise formula F N = F N 1 + F N 2. Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e:

2 Fibonacci Number There is one thing still missing. The formula F N = F N 1 + F N 2 requires two consecutive Fibonacci numbers before it can be used and therefore cannot be applied to generate the first two Fibonacci numbers, F 1 and F 2. For a complete definition we must also explicitly give the values of the first two Fibonacci numbers, namely F 1 = 1 and F 2 = 1. These first two values serve as anchors for the recursive rule and are called the seeds of the Fibonacci sequence. FIBONACCI NUMBERS (RECURSIVE DEFINITION) F 1 = 1, F 2 = 1 (the seeds) F N = F N 1 + F N 2 (the recursive rule) Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Example: Cranking Out Large Fibonacci Numbers How could one find the value of F 100? With a little patience (and a calculator) we could use the recursive definition as a crank that we repeatedly turn to ratchet our way up the sequence: From the seeds F 1 and F 2 we compute F 3, then use F 3 and F 4 to compute F 5, and so on. If all goes well, after many turns of the crank (we will skip the details) you will eventually get to F 97 = 83,621,143,489,848,422,977 Example: Cranking Out Large Fibonacci Numbers and then to F 98 = 135,301,852,344,706,746,049 one more turn of the crank gives F 99 = 218,922,995,834,555,169,026 and the last turn gives F 100 = 354,224,848,179,261,915,075 converting to dollars yields \$3,542,248,481,792,619, Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Example: Cranking Out Large Fibonacci Numbers \$3,542,248,481,792,619, How much money is that? If you take \$100 billion for yourself and then divide what s left evenly among every man, woman, and child on Earth (about 6.7 billion people), each person would get more than \$500 million! Leonard Euler In 1736 Leonhard Euler discovered a formula for the Fibonacci numbers that does not rely on previous Fibonacci numbers. The formula was lost and rediscovered 100 years later by French mathematician and astronomer Jacques Binet, who somehow ended up getting all the credit, as the formula is now known as Binet s formula. Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e:

3 Using a Programmable Calculator BINET S FORMULA F N = 5 2 N N You can use the following shortcut of Binet s formula to quickly find the Nth Fibonacci number for large values of N: ( ) Step 1 Store A = 1+ 5 / 2 in the calculator s memory. Step 2 Compute A N. Step 3 Divide the result in step 2 by 5. Step 4 Round the result in Step 3 to the nearest whole number. This will give you F N. Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Example: Computing Large Fibonacci Numbers: Part 2 Example: Computing Large Fibonacci Numbers: Part 2 Use the shortcut to Binet s formula with a programmable calculator to compute F 100. ( ) Step 1 Compute 1+ 5 / 2. The calculator should give something like: Step 3 Step 4 Divide the previous number by The calculator should show 354,224,848,179,261,915,075. The last step would be to round the number in Step 3 to the nearest whole number. 5. Step 2 Using the power key, raise the previous number to the power 100. The calculator should show 792,070,839,848,372,253,127. In this case the decimal part is so tiny that the calculator will not show it, so the number already shows up as a whole number and we are done. Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Why Fibonacci Numbers Are Special We find Fibonacci numbers when we count the number of petals in certain varieties of flowers: lilies and irises have 3 petals; buttercups and columbines have 5 petals; cosmos and rue anemones have 8 petals; yellow daisies and marigolds have 13 petals; English daisies and asters have 21 petals; oxeye daisies have 34 petals, and there are other daisies with 55 and 89 petals Why Fibonacci Numbers Are Special Fibonacci numbers also appear consistently in conifers, seeds, and fruits. The bracts in a pinecone, for example, spiral in two different directions in 8 and 13 rows; the scales in a pineapple spiral in three different directions in 8, 13, and 21 rows; the seeds in the center of a sunflower spiral in 55 and 89 rows. Is it all a coincidence? Hardly. Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e:

4 Copyright Copyright Pearson Pearson Education, Education. Inc. All rights reserved. Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Chapter 13: Fibonacci Numbers and the Golden Ratio 13.2 The Golden Ratio Copyright Copyright Pearson Pearson Education, Education. Inc. All rights reserved. Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Golden Ratio This number is one of the most famous and most studied numbers in all mathematics. The ancient Greeks gave it mystical properties and called it the divine proportion, and over the years, the number has taken many different names: the golden number, the golden section, and in modern times the golden ratio, the name that we will use from here on. The customary notation is to use the Greek lowercase letter φ (phi) to denote the golden ratio. Golden Ratio The golden ratio is an irrational number it cannot be simplified into a fraction, and if you want to write it as a decimal, you can only approximate it to so many decimal places. For most practical purposes, a good enough approximation is Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e:

5 THE GOLDEN RATIO φ = φ The sequence of numbers shown above is called the Fibonacci sequence, and the individual numbers in the sequence are known as the Fibonacci numbers. The Golden Property Find a positive number such that when you add 1 to it you get the square of the number. To solve this problem we let x be the desired number. The problem then translates into solving the quadratic equation x 2 = x + 1. To solve this equation we first rewrite it in the form x 2 x 1 = 0 and then use the quadratic formula. In this case the quadratic formula gives the solutions ( 1) ± ( 1) 2 4( 1) ( 1) = 1± Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: The Golden Property Of the two solutions, one is negative ( 1± 5 )/ φ = ( 1± 5 )/ 2. golden ratio and the other is the It follows that φ is the only positive number with the property that when you add one to the number you get the square of the number, that is, φ 2 = φ + 1. We will call this property the golden property. As we will soon see, the golden property has really important algebraic and geometric implications. Fibonacci Numbers - Golden Property We will use the golden property φ 2 = φ + 1 to recursively compute higher and higher powers of φ. Here is how: If we multiply both sides of φ 2 = φ + 1 by φ, we get φ 3 = φ 2 + φ Replacing φ 2 by φ + 1 on the RHS gives φ 3 = (φ + 1) + φ = 2φ + 1 Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Fibonacci Numbers - Golden Property If we multiply both sides of φ 3 = 2φ + 1 by φ, we get φ 4 = 2φ 2 + φ Replacing φ 2 by φ + 1 on the RHS gives φ 4 = 2(φ + 1) + φ = 3φ + 2 Fibonacci Numbers - Golden Property If we multiply both sides of φ 4 = 3φ + 2 by φ, we get φ 5 = 3φ 2 + 2φ Replacing φ 2 by φ + 1 on the RHS gives φ 5 = 3(φ + 1) + 2φ = 5φ + 3 Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e:

6 Fibonacci Numbers - Golden Property If we continue this way, we can express every power of φ in terms of φ: φ 6 = 8φ + 5 φ 7 = 13φ + 8 φ 8 = 21φ + 13 and so on. Notice that on the right-hand side we always get an expression involving two consecutive Fibonacci numbers. The general formula that expresses higher powers of in terms of and Fibonacci numbers is as follows. POWERS OF THE GOLDEN RATIO φ N = F N φ + F N 1 Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Ratio: Consecutive Fibonacci Numbers Ratio: Consecutive Fibonacci Numbers We will now explore what is probably the most surprising connection between the Fibonacci numbers and the golden ratio. Take a look at what happens when we take the ratio of consecutive Fibonacci numbers. The table that appears on the following two slides shows the first 16 values of the ratio F N / F N 1. Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Ratio: Consecutive Fibonacci Numbers Ratio: Consecutive Fibonacci Numbers The table shows an interesting pattern: As N gets bigger, the ratio of consecutive Fibonacci numbers appears to settle down to a fixed value, and that fixed value turns out to be the golden ratio! Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e:

7 RATIO OF CONSECUTIVE FIBONACCI NUMBERS F N / F N 1 φ and the larger the value of N, the better the approximation. Chapter 13: Fibonacci Numbers and the Golden Ratio 13.4 Spiral Growth in Nature Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Spiral Growth in Nature In nature, where form usually follows function, the perfect balance of a golden rectangle shows up in spiral-growing organisms, often in the form of consecutive Fibonacci numbers. To see how this connection works, consider the following example, which serves as a model for certain natural growth processes. Example: Stacking Squares on Fibonacci Rectangles Start with a 1 by 1 square. Attach to it a 1 by 1 square. Squares 1 and 2 together form a 1 by 2 Fibonacci rectangle. We will call this the generation second shape. Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Example: Stacking Squares on Fibonacci Rectangles For the third generation, tack on a 2 by 2 square (3). The third-generation shape is the 3 by 2 Fibonacci rectangle. Example: Stacking Squares on Fibonacci Rectangles Next, tack on a 3 by 3 square, giving a 3 by 5 Fibonacci rectangle. Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e:

8 Example: Stacking Squares on Fibonacci Rectangles Tacking on a 5 by 5 square results in an 8 by 5 Fibonacci rectangle. You get the picture we can keep doing this as long as we want. Example: Stacking Squares on Fibonacci Rectangles We might imagine these growing Fibonacci rectangles as a living organism. At each step, the organism grows by adding a square (a very simple, basic shape). The interesting feature of this growth is that as the Fibonacci rectangles grow larger, they become very close to golden rectangles, and become essentially similar to one another. Chambered Example: Growth of a Fibonacci Rectangle Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Let s revisit the growth process of the previous example, except now let s create within each of the squares being added an interior chamber in the form of a quarter-circle. This kind of growth getting bigger while maintaining the same overall shape is characteristic of the way many natural organisms grow. Chambered Example: Growth of a Fibonacci Rectangle Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: These figures depict the consecutive generations in the evolution of the chambered Fibonacci rectangle. We need to be a little more careful about how we attach the chambered square in each successive generation, but other than that, we can repeat the sequence of steps in the previous example to get the sequence of shapes shown on the next two slides. Chambered Example: Growth of a Fibonacci Rectangle Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Chambered Example: Growth of a Fibonacci Rectangle Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: The outer spiral formed by the circular arcs is often called a Fibonacci spiral. Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e:

9 Gnomonic Growth Natural organisms grow in essentially two different ways. Humans, most animals, and many plants grow following what can informally be described as an allaround growth rule. In this type of growth, all living parts of the organism grow simultaneously but not necessarily at the same rate. Gnomonic Growth One characteristic of this type of growth is that there is no obvious way to distinguish between the newer and the older parts of the organism. In fact, the distinction between new and old parts does not make much sense. Contrast this with the kind of growth exemplified by the shell of the chambered nautilus, a ram s horn, or the trunk of a redwood tree. Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Gnomonic Growth These organisms grow following a one-sided or asymmetric growth rule, meaning that the organism has a part added to it (either by its own or outside forces) in such a way that the old organism together with the added part form the new organism. At any stage of the growth process, we can see not only the present form of the organism but also the organism s entire past. Gnomonic Growth All the previous stages of growth are the building blocks that make up the present structure. The other important aspect of natural growth is the principle of self-similarity: Organisms like to maintain their overall shape as they grow. This is where gnomons come into the picture. For the organism to retain its shape as it grows, the new growth must be a gnomon of the entire organism. We will call this kind of growth process gnomonic growth. Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Example: Circular Gnomonic Growth Example: Circular Gnomonic Growth We know from the previous example that the gnomon to a circular disk is an O-ring with an inner radius equal to the radius of the circle. We can thus have circular gnomonic growth by the regular addition of O-rings. O-rings added one layer at a time to a starting circular structure preserve the circular shape through-out the structure s growth. When carried to three dimensions, this is a good model for the way the trunk of a redwood tree grows. And this is why we can read the history of a felled redwood tree by studying its rings. Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e:

10 Example: Spiral Gnomonic Growth The figure shows a diagram of a cross section of the chambered nautilus. The chambered nautilus builds its shell in stages, each time adding another chamber to the already existing shell. Example: Spiral Gnomonic Growth At every stage of its growth, the shape of the chambered nautilus shell remains the same the beautiful and distinctive spiral. Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Example: Spiral Gnomonic Growth This is a classic example of gnomonic growth each new chamber added to the shell is a gnomon of the entire shell. The gnomonic growth of the shell proceeds, in essence, as follows: Starting with its initial shell (a tiny spiral similar in all respects to the adult spiral shape), the animal builds a chamber (by producing a special secretion around its body that calcifies and hardens). The resulting, slightly enlarged spiral shell is similar to the original one. Example: Spiral Gnomonic Growth The process then repeats itself over many stages, each one a season in the growth of the animal. Each new chamber adds a gnomon to the shell, so the shell grows and yet remains similar to itself. This process is a real-life variation of the mathematical spiral-building process discussed previously. The curve generated by the outer edge of a nautilus shell a cross section is called a logarithmic spiral. Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e: Complex Gnomonic Growth More complex examples of gnomonic growth occur in sunflowers, daisies, pineapples, pinecones, and so on. Here, the rules that govern growth are somewhat more involved, but Fibonacci numbers and the golden ratio once again play a prominent role. Excursions in Modern Mathematics, e:

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