# Spiral Out: What’s the Point of the Fibonacci Sequence?

Math. Nobody likes math. Whether it’s because it’s hard to grasp or its reputation as such precedes it, mathematical concepts are often one of the first things forgotten about as we age. Yet they’re part of everything we do, especially regarding technology.

**Magical Properties**

A good example of the previous is found in casino games – specifically, online ones. An algorithm provides each slot machine (and digital blackjack, craps table, etc.) with random numbers so that each turn is fair to the player. It’s not something the player will ever see but, like it or not, their time at the casino is guided by mathematics.

Roulette takes this one step further by introducing one of the most famous ideas in math (and the topic of this article), the Fibonacci Sequence. This is a series of numbers that produce new ones when added together. Paddy Power’s roulette allows players to bet in certain ways that mimic the Fibonacci Sequence, providing order to what might otherwise be a string of random bets. This technique is often called the Fibonacci System or the Fibonacci Roulette Strategy.

Web users will probably recognize the Fibonacci Sequence from memes. Created visually, it’s a spiral that can be overlaid onto almost everything, from reclining cats and Homer Simpson draped over a fire hydrant, to the shape of a rotund bear. Of course, the idea that the Fibonacci Sequence can be applied indiscriminately undermines its seemingly magical properties.

What is it, though? More importantly, is the Fibonacci Sequence used for anything in particular?

**Fibonacci Sequence**

Each number in the Fibonacci Sequence is made from the sum of the two previous ones. If we start at the beginning, it will read as 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, and 8. That’s 0 + 1 = **1**, 1 + 1 = **2**, and 1 + 2 = **3** … and so forth. One of the most artistic expressions of the Fibonacci Sequence is (allegedly) the Tool song Lateralus, in which each number determines the number of syllables in each line.

We’ve already mentioned another of its uses, i.e. creating order from chaos. Let’s return to our roulette example from earlier. Placing bets according to the Fibonacci Sequence means looking at each number as an amount to bet, e.g. 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21. There’s no adding up required. The trick is to increase your stake on a loss and reduce it by two positions on a win. A win on a bet of 5 becomes a stake of 2.

It might sound counter-intuitive to bet more on a loss, but the Fibonacci strategy in roulette is designed to return losses faster. This is known as a negative progression in casino circles. Whether it works or not is up for debate, as there’s no guarantee that players will win before their bankroll is exhausted. Casino experts recommend strategies only for expert players.

We’ve talked almost exclusively about artificial parts of the world so far, such as computers (and even math itself), but the Fibonacci Sequence’s most famous application is in nature.

**The Golden Ratio**

Remember the spiral from earlier? This depiction of the Fibonacci Sequence is slightly erroneous. It shows something associated with the number series called the Golden Ratio. We don’t need to know much about The Golden Ratio for the sake of this article, other than the fact that it’s formed by dividing a large number by a smaller one. If the answer is close to 1.618, you’ve found the Golden Ratio.

Elements in nature that spiral outwards from a single point sometimes align with the Golden Ratio. A popular example is the nautilus shell, but research indicates this isn’t quite true. Human DNA aligns with the Golden Ratio, as do petals, pine cones, and the family trees of male honeybees, due to their unique trait of having a single parent (the Queen) for each pair of grandparents.

It’s not easy to find a single answer about why the Fibonacci Sequence and the Golden Ratio are important, other than they produce nice patterns in both natural and artificial contexts. Plenty of support for these concepts exists within finance, however. Fibonacci retracement levels may even be used to make predictions about the Stock Market.

**Vitruvian Man**

Let’s talk about art. It can be difficult to isolate the use of the Golden Ratio in artwork but there’s evidence that Salvador Dali painted his *The Sacrament of the Last Supper* according to the number. Leonardo Da Vinci’s *Mona Lisa* and* Vitruvian Man* reportedly flirt with the mathematical principle, as well.

For the average person, the meme potential of the Fibonacci Sequence is about as useful as it’s going to get but the “perfect” dimensions of the Golden Ratio mean that the pairing will continue to appear in art, music, and architecture until we find something prettier to fawn over.