These pages on Mathematics are for those who don't like Mathematics or who hated maths at school
as well as for teachers and those at school (or who left school a long while ago!) who want to see a fun
side of maths and who like to play with numbers. The level of mathematics required is
what would be taught up to GCSE (age 15) in UK schools and rarely does it need A-level skills (age 17, pre university).
Other pages are designed to help with A-level Maths topics, either as a teacher or student.
work on all browsers on all devices, mobile, tablet or PC.
The Fibonacci Numbers
a collection of information on Fibonacci numbers (0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,...)
and the Golden section ( 0.61803... and 1.61803...)
This Fibonacci page was originally developed in 1995 and went live on the web in March 1996 making it now one of the
longest running active pages on Mathematics on the web!
At the top it includes links to the pages shown here below. The whole site is hosted by the University of Surrey.
This page alone still gets more than 3000-5000 visits per day.
A simple way to reference this page is to use the automatic-redirection page
Ron Knott was on Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time programme on BBC Radio 4, November 29, 2007
when we discussed The Fibonacci Numbers (45 minutes). You can listen again online or download the podcast.
Dr E Lawrence and myself, members of Surrey University Mathematics Department, were part of a large UK government
Teaching and Learning Technology Project (TLTP)
although now that name has been used by several other individuals and groups unassociated with this project.
It aimed to provide maths software to link school and university mathematics, involving
23 UK universities
developing activities and assessment on 40 topics in mathematics, ending in about 1995.
Mathwise never really reached its full potential because it was developed on both PCs and Macs using
a variety of software.
The PC and Mac software was
never integrated into one unified and accessible system.
I developed this Fibonacci page after Mathwise was ending, in 1995, to see if the (then new) internet
could be used to communicate maths effectively and generally, having the advantages that
it ran identically on many kinds of computer, both personal and desktop, PC and Mac (later: mobile and tablet)
it was accessible everywhere in any browser
it was free
it would not need extra software to be downloaded (later: nor extra apps)
it would not have any adverts except to buy the books referenced
It was designed as both a resource for teachers as well as for keen and not-so-keen school and beginning-university students
who wanted to explore topics off the main curriculum. Hence each webpage is longer than is now become the norm
on the web so that
each could be downloaded and viewed at leisure offline, dating from the days
when a broadband connection was still rare, costly and very slow.
The pages gained many awards in its early days
and have been extensively expanded and augmented regularly since then.
Number bases: what happens if instead of using 10 as the basis of writing numbers we used base 2 (binary) or base −10?
What if we didn't use power of a number but used the Fibonacci numbers or the Factorials?
What about base Phi - the golden section number? or even a complex number?
Which fractions recur such as 1/3 =0.3333... and 1/7 = 0.142857 142857 ...?
HOw can we tell? How long is the recurring pattern for a given fractions?
Have you noticed that
1/99 = 0. 01 01 01 01 01 01 01 01 01 1 ... all ones - powers of 1 if you like
1/98 = 0. 01 02 04 08 16 32 65 30 61 2 ... the powers of 2 - with 'carry' when longer than 2 digits
1/97 = 0. 01 03 09 27 83 50 51 54 63 9 ... the powers of 3 - again with 'carry' if longer than 2 digits
1/9801 = 0. 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14.. the numbers in order!
Did you know that there is another recurring fraction for the powers of 2 but in reverse order...
1/199 = 0.00502512562814070351...145728 64 32 16 08 04 02 01 with a period of 99 digits.
Why is this? What other patterns can we find relating sequences and decimal fractions and why does this happen?
An accurate calculator to convert ordinary fractions (such as 2/7) to and from decimal fractions
(such as 0.285714...).
to any number of decimal places accuracy.
The web page does not need any extra software, just your browser on any device.
There are some lovely patterns of we take all the fractions made with the numerators and denominators 1 to n and put them in
order of size (Farey sequences). It leads us to a tree structure (the Stern-Brocot Tree) and answers some wuestions about
tightly packing circles on a flat surface.
explains how the
Egyptians and Babylonians of 3000 BC represented fractions and how they used them.
In some ways, their method is better than the decimal system! There are now some online calculators on this page to take some
of the work out of generating these fractions.
links their use in explaining the patterns on seedheads and flowers and their usefulness in mathematics too.
There is an online Continued Fraction Calculator
so you can experiment for yourself. No download is needed -- all you need is on the web page and in your browser (any browser)!
those integer-sided, right-angled triangles
such as the triangle with sides of 3, 4 and 5. Includes a formula for generating them all and calculator which
shows you how. These triangles were extensively studied by the Babylonians of
5000 years ago and some of the oldest mathematical writings (clay tablets) contain tables of such triangles.
The page includes several online interactive Calculators so you can experiment for yourself.
cos(60°)=0.5, sin(60°)=√3/2, tan(45°)=1. What other angles have simple expressions for their trig values?
cos(π/5) = Phi/2 where Phi is the golden section number (1+√5)/2
and lots of other facts and ways to remember the trig formulas.
are sums of consecutive numbers, e.g. 4+5 is a runsum for 9, as is 2+3+4.
An on-line calculator computes all the runsums for a given number and finds numbers
with a specific number of runsums (e.g. under "2" would be 9 because 9 has just 2 runsums
shown above). Runsums are the difference between two Triangle Numbers, and this
is also explained on the web page.
We all know about square numbers and cubes but what about other shapes such as triangular, pentagonal (5 sided) or
tetrahedrons (a triangle-based pyramid) and square-based or other pyramids? More on Polygonal Numbers
Matchstick numbers, central polygonal numbers and some 3D and higher dimensional shapes.
that generates variations on 50 questions, marks, detects common errors, and shows the correct
answer and provides bar charts of your results. It was originally developed for
the Mathematics Enhancement Programme at Exeter University as a resource for Mathematics teachers.
that can produce random cards, coins, dice, integers and items
for games or statistical experiments.
To accompany Michael Mclaughlin's excellent arbitrary-precision numbers
a LIBrary of math functions including
integer functions (GCD, LCM, Factorial and Binomials and Random integers),
powers and Logs,
Trig functions and their inverses, Hyperbolic Trig functions and their inverses).
If you like the TV programme Countdown, you'll love Got It!. Select some number
cards and it will generate a target number for you to make using the cards and +, -, × and ÷ in
30 seconds. You can select the level of difficulty from primary school level to Maths MasterMind. IF you get stuck or run out
of time, Got It will show you one way to get the target.
which can not only find the day of the week for a given day, month and year, but
also tell you the years when your birthday falls on a Saturday, or which months in
a year have a "Friday 13th". It uses a simple table with no need for a calculator!
"Where do you go to get a degree in Apologies?" at the University
of Sorry (Surrey) (groan). Here's a collection of similar "courses".
About Dr Ron Knott
Dr Ron Knott
Ph.D(1980, University of Nottingham), M.Sc (1976, University of Nottingham), B.Sc (Pure Maths, University of Wales),
C.Math, FIMA, C.Eng, MBCS, CITP
Visiting Fellow, Department of Mathematics,
formerly Lecturer in Mathematics and Computing Science Departments (1979-1998)
Faculty of Electronics and Physical Sciences, University of Surrey,
Contact me initially by Email:
I was a lecturer in the Departments of Mathematics and Computing Science
at the University of Surrey, Guildford, UK, for 19 years
until September 1998 when I left to start working for
myself making web pages for maths education sites.
I now give mathematics talks to students at schools and universities
as well as to general audiences, teachers' conferences and Science Festivals
on topics of the web pages above:
especially the Fibonacci Numbers and why they occur so often in plants,
Fun with Fractions, As Easy As Pi, ... .
I now live in Bolton, near Manchester in NW England.
Upcoming and Recent talks, articles and events
An hour's talk talk to the UK national U3A, online, on Thursday Auguest 12 2023 at 2pm (BST): Odd numbers and There and Back again tales of 2 beautiful number patterns
Details to follow.
Dr Ron Knott
Please contact me by email at
if you want to enquire about a talk at your school or society or Science Festival suitable for
a general audience or for mathematics students.