Arthur Benjamin is perhaps the world’s leading mathemagician and, in today’s talk, he aims to show the creativity, beauty and wonder that is as much a part of math as logic. Arthur Benjamin: The magic of Fibonacci numbers Stepping onto the TEDGlobal 2013 stage, Benjamin takes us on a spirited tour of the Fibonacci numbers, where the patterns to be found go far beyond simply adding two consecutive numbers to get the next. Math is the science of patterns, says Benjamin, and isn’t it incredible that as we note the arithmetical significance of this sequence, that we can also see it in action all around us?

“Fibonacci numbers appear in nature surprisingly often,” says Benjamin. “The number of petals on a flower is typically a Fibonacci number. Or the number of spirals on a sunflower or a pineapple.”

Benjamin’s talk reminds us of several other TED classics. Human beings have a proclivity for patterns, and this collection of talks sheds light on how, and why, we lock into patterns and use them in countless facets of life.

Michael Shermer: The pattern behind self-deception
Michael Shermer: The pattern behind self-deceptionThe brain is wired to see patterns and this is not just the case in humans. Birds in a box, with two holes to peck, will continue the pattern of action that resulted in the delivery of a food reward, even if the food is really dispensed randomly. This is just one of the ways Michael Shermer, the director of the Skeptics Society, cleverly gives us insight into our innate “patternicity.” Often, the tendency to follow patterns can lead us to offbeat, incorrect or out-of-this-world conclusions. |

Patricia Kuhl: The linguistic genius of babies
Patricia Kuhl: The linguistic genius of babiesOur innate nature of pattern-recognizing is even evident in a baby’s ability to learn language. By “taking statistics” and finding trends in the words constantly spoken to and around them, young children identify and absorb the cultural characteristics of their native language. In this talk, Patricia Kuhl describes this fascinating — and critical — period of language acquisition. |

Beau Lotto: Optical illusions show how we see
Beau Lotto: Optical Illusions show how we seePatterns are essential in our brains’ ability to make sense of the infinite possibilities of the stimuli in our surroundings. We use guidance from neighboring clues and our own memories of past experience to fill in the blank that is the perception of the present. Beau Lotto, exposes the assumptions that the brain makes based on such patterns through the trickery of optical illusion. |

Jean-Baptiste Michel: The mathematics of history
Jean Baptiste: The mathematics of historyPatterns expose consistencies throughout human history that teach us about the past and allow us to anticipate the future. Did you know there is a mathematic equation that links the language of the King of England in the 9th century to Jay-Z? Jean-Baptiste Michel has found this equation and sees great potential in finding more intriguing trends in our time of digitized data. |

David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization
David McCandless: The beauty of data visualizationData journalist David McCandless turns complicated data sets — worldwide military spending versus worldwide charity giving, media panic over disease and disaster — into a landscape that you can explore with your eyes. Why? To make the invisible patterns of our world highly visible. |

Ron Eglash: The fractals at the heart of African designs
Ron Eglash: The fractals at the heart of African designsEthno-mathematician Ron Eglash noticed a fascinating pattern as he began to study at African villages in many different parts of the continent — that they were built on fractal geometry, with smaller structures resembling the larger structures. These fractal patterns are also visible in African art and architecture — even in popular board games and divination practices. |

And a bonus TEDx talk:

**Laurie Frick: Seeing the hidden language in art**

Identifying patterns help humans to find clarity in seemingly useless information. Laurie Frick, an engineer turned artist, collects and simplifies millions of data points of human tracking into visuals that expose trends amidst seeming background noise. Beginning with measuring her own minute-to-minute sleep patterns, in this talk from TEDxAustin, she describes a form of art that celebrates the surveillance and reveals the structure that makes the human condition more accessible.

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Mathemagician Arthur Benjamin says that there are three reasons we learn math: calculation, application and inspiration. Yes, inspiration.

Arthur Benjamin: A performance of "Mathemagic" Math is the science of patterns, and learning it teaches us not just logic but creative thinking, says Benjamin. So why, when math is beautiful and exciting, is so much of what we learn in school about preparing for tests or passing on to the next grade?

To highlight this point, Benjamin introduces us to Fibonacci numbers — a name-drop that gets loud applause on the TEDGlobal stage. The person we call Fibonacci was actually “named” Leonardo of Pisa and he pioneered much of the arithmetic we use. The Fibonacci sequence is:

1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 …

Arthur Benjamin: Teach statistics before calculus! Each number in the sequence is the sum of the two that came before it. This sequence of numbers occurs in nature surprisingly often (like in the number of petals on a flower), and the sequence has other special properties too — if you square the sequence, remarkable patterns emerge. Benjamin shows us this spatially through a simple diagram — all the numbers in the sequence form a rectangle made of smaller squares.

“I show all this to you because, like all of mathematics, there’s a beautiful side of it that doesn’t get attention in school,” Benjamin concludes. “Mathematics is not just solving for *x*, it’s also figuring out why.”

On the Friday of the conference, Benjamin returned to the stage to perform a mathemagic trick. He pulls an attendee out of the audience and onto stage and asks her to tell him her birthday. He creates a 4×4 grid and adds the digits of her birthdate together in the top row. The sum is 41. Benjamin takes just a few seconds to fill in the rest of grid with numbers. Then, testing the audience’s arithmetic skills, he adds up each column and row. They all add up to the magic number 41. The same is even true of the diagonals on the grid … and amazingly of the center square. In fact, the corners add up to 41 too. How?

Inspiration, indeed.

*Arthur Benjamin’s talk is now available for viewing. Watch it on TED.com »
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Beauty is always a key theme at TED, and in this session, Imagined Beauty, there’s something for everyone, with speakers including a couple whose professions have required the coining of new words. Meet the “cloudspotter,” the “mathemagician,” and the others who presented to us in this session of TEDGlobal. Click on their name for a full talk recap.

Using daring displays of algorithmic trickery, lightning calculator and number wizard Arthur Benjamin mesmerizes audiences with mathematical mystery and beauty.

Cloud Appreciation Society founder Gavin Pretor-Pinney shows how seemingly idle pursuits provide unexpected paths to appreciating overlooked wonders.

Uri Alon studies how cells work, using an array of tools (including improv theater) to understand the biological circuits that perform the functions of life.

Alexa Meade paints mesmerising, illusionistic portraits directly on living subjects, subverting familiar visual cues with perspective and color.

In his influential poetry criticism, Stephen Burt links the contemporary with the classical, pinpoints new poetry movements, and promotes outstanding little-known poets.

Andras Forgacs produces animal products — meat and leather — without the animal.

Wrestling with inspiration, Jamie Cullum has been ripping up the jazz rulebook.

Pico Iyer’s travel writing chronicles fascinating (and often jarring) examples of cultural mashups. Now he shows how travel can rescue us from our technological distractions.

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**Short URL: http://on.ted.com/1G**

*** Don’t miss** this short comment by Arthur Benjamin, given just after his talk on math and education at TED@PalmSprings.

Watch **Arthur Benjamin’s talk from TED@PalmSprings 2009 on TED.com** where you can **download this TEDTalk**, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances from our archive of 450+ TEDTalks.

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**Arthur Benjamin:** If I had an extra minute, I’d also talk about how we shouldn’t only show the mathematics that’s useful — and statistics is useful for being an educated consumer and citizen. We could replace a lot of the drudgerous mathematics that’s being taught with math that’s purely fun, with no real promise of “you’re going to use this,” but just “this is beautiful stuff.”

You can go ape over patterns in Pascal’s triangle, in the Fibonacci numbers, in chaos, in fractals. These things that are just positively inspirational. We don’t make — I mean, I’m listening to this music. It’s inspirational. But I didn’t have to be drilled with how to draw my notes properly and learn all this music theory before I got exposed to that kind of music. I think the same sort of thing could happen in mathematics.

Why not give them a taste of beautiful mathematics in addition to the useful stuff?

Photo: TED / Michael Brands

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Kelly Stoetzel of TED and slam poet Rives are co-hosts.

Jill Sobule entertained the audience with her usual wit — and a selection of newly unveiled material.

Arthur Benjamin’s energetic presentation (above) was the perfect way to kick off TEDDIY on Day 1 of TED@PalmSprings. He used his lightning-fast mental calculations to transform a volunteer’s birth date (year, month, day) into a 4×4 magic square whose rows, columns, diagonals, corners and 2×2 components all added up to 42. The volunteer left the stage with this near-instantaneous magic square — the perfect souvenir from TED!

*Photos: TED / Michael Brands*

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To celebrate this milestone, we’re releasing a never-before-seen list: the Top 10 TED talks of all time, as of June 2008.

With speakers like neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor and global health expert Hans Rosling, the list proves one of the compelling ideas behind TEDTalks: that an unknown speaker with a powerful idea can reach — and move — a global audience. Links to all 10 talks are found below — or browse through our Top 10 TED Talks Theme. Even if you’ve seen all the talks, the highlights video is darn fun.

**Download the Top 10 TED Talks highlights video:**

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**Download the Top 10 TED Talks highlights video:**

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**Top 10 TED Talks of all time**

1. **Jill Bolte Taylor:** My stroke of insight

2. **Jeff Han:** Touchscreen demo foreshadows the iPhone

3. **David Gallo:** Underwater astonishments

4. **Blaise Aguera y Arcas:** Jaw-dropping Photosynth demo

5. **Arthur Benjamin:** Lightning calculation and other “Mathemagic”

6. **Sir Ken Robinson:** Do schools kill creativity?

7. **Hans Rosling:** The best stats you’ve ever seen

8. **Tony Robbins:** Why we do what we do, and how we can do it better

9. **Al Gore:** 15 ways to avert a climate crisis

10. **Johnny Lee:** Creating tech marvels out of a $40 Wii Remote

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**Watch Arthur Benjamin’s performance on TED.com**, where you can **download it**, rate it, comment on it and find other talks and performances.

**Read more about Arthur Benjamin** on TED.com.

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