AL-KHWARIZMI

One of the most important mathematicians of the Islamic Golden Age was al-Khwarizmi (780-850). He made his most important contribution to the field of algebra.


Algebra refers to the process of manipulating equations to find the value of unknown variables (in high school, this often boils down to “finding the x”).


The Babylonians had already found solutions to various equations, but algebra truly took off when the Greek mathematician Diophantus of Alexandria (third century AD) wrote a series of books called Arithmetica, in which he studied various equations to find their integer (whole number) solutions.


Al-Khwarizmi systemetized this way of thinking when he discovered systematic ways of solving equations, which he described as “abandoning the practice of solving particular [math] problems” and instead focusing on “a general series of principles and rules.” Today such a procedure is called an algorithm, named after al-Khwarizmi.


His main achievement was the identification of two techniques to solve equations, which are still used in high school math classes. Al-jabr, which in Europe turned into the word “algebra,” was the process of moving terms from one side of the equation to the other. Al-muqabala was the process of canceling equal terms that appear on both sides of the equation.


Al-Khwarizmi is also credited with introducing the Indian numeral system to the Arabic world and later to Europe.


Oh, and the statue depicted is of course totally modern. There arent many depictions of the medieval Islamic scholars unfortunately.


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