Luca Pacioli was an Italian mathematician and is famously known as The Father of Accounting and Bookkeeping due to his tremendous contributions in the field of accounting. He was born to Bartolomeo Pacioli in Sansepulcro, Tuscany in 1445. He was not raised by his parents but the Befolci family in a small town named as Sansepolcro.
The early education that Pacioli received focused more on subjects that would be useful for becoming a merchant and was in Italian language. He traveled to Venice as a young boy and started tutoring three sons of the great merchant Antonio Rompiasi. Alongside, he continued his studies and learned mathematics to a much higher level under Domenico Bragadino. In 1470, Pacioli came up with the very first of his books which was for the guidance of his students.
After that Pacioli moved to Rome and studied mathematics and theology from Leone Battista Alberti. For few years, Pacioli even held the position of friar in the Franciscan order. He then started teaching mathematics in different universities of Italy and joined the University of Perugia in 1477 where he became the chairman of the mathematics department. Other institutes where he taught mathematics include Zara in the Venetian Empire (now known as Jadera in Croatia), the University of Naples and the University of Rome.
Pacioli returned to his homeland in Sansepulcro in 1489 but became the target of some religious communities’ jealousy and was prohibited from teaching due to some privileges given to him by the pope in 1491. In about three years time, their attitudes changed and Pacioli was invited for sermons at the Lent.
During his stay at Sansepulcro, Pacioli completed his first book and got it published in Venice 1494 by the title of Summa de Artihmetica, Geometrica, proportioni et propotionalita (Everything about Arithmetic, Geometry and Proportion). In this book he did not present any new discovery instead he compiled and summarized the mathematical work that had been done by then. This book helped the future mathematicians of Europe in making important advancements.
Paciolo went to Milan on a special invitation in 1496. It was there where he met Leonardo da Vinci who had great interest in mathematics. Pacioli taught him mathematics and he carried out illustrative work for Paciolo’s ongoing book Divina proportione which was later published in 1509. It contained relation of Euclid’s theorems with the golden ratio i.e. a : b = b : (a+b) and some work on semi-regular polygons. Paciolo later wrote two more books which were published as sequential volumes for this book. The second book contained applications of the golden ratio in architecture while in the third book he translated a mathematical work by della Francesca in Italian.
After the exile of Duke of Milan by the French in 1499, Paciolo and Leonardo had to leave the country along with many others. They both lived in Florence where Paciolo got appointed as geometry teacher at the University of Pisa in 1500. Leonardo left Forence in 1506, the same year in which Paciolo was made superior of the Order of Romagna.
In 1510, Paciolo went to Perugia and delivered many lectures there. He then returned to Rome in 1514 where he resided till the year of his death; 1517. He had done work on many other topics but couldn’t get them published during his life. His workings were later discovered and published in the following years, two of which include;
- His combined effort with Leonardo, De Viribus Quantitatis in which he combined mathematics and magic. Geometric problems, proverbs, magic tricks for cards, eating fire and dancing coins could be found in this book that was published in 2007 by David Singmaster.
- De Ludo Scacchorum (The Game of Chess) was published in 2008 in
One of the major contributions of Paciolo was a book on accounting that brought revolution in this field. His discoveries and detailed works were on
- Ethics of accounting
- The rule of 72 (a method of determining economic returns)
- Use of ledgers,
- Journals and
- Balance sheet and
- Income statement
- The method of Venice