Friday, January 22, 2010


Al-Khwārizmī (c. 780, Khwārizm – c. 850) was a Persian mathematician, astronomer and geographer, a scholar in the House of Wisdom in Baghdad.
His Kitab al-Jabr wa-l-Muqabala presented the first systematic solution of linear and quadratic equations. He is considered the founder of algebra, a credit he shares with Diophantus. In the twelfth century, Latin translations of his work on the Indian numerals, introduced the decimal positional number system to the Western world. He revised Ptolemy's Geography and wrote on astronomy and astrology.
His contributions had a great impact on language. "Algebra" is derived from al-jabr, one of the two operations he used to solve quadratic equations. Algorism and algorithm stem from Algoritmi, the Latin form of his name. His name is the origin of (Spanish) guarismo and of (Portuguese) algarismo, both meaning digit.

Al-Khwārizmī's contributions to mathematics, geography, astronomy, and cartography established the basis for innovation in algebra and trigonometry. His systematic approach to solving linear and quadratic equations led to algebra, a word derived from the title of his 830 book on the subject, "The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing" (al-Kitab al-mukhtasar fi hisab al-jabr wa'l-muqabalaالكتاب المختصر في حساب الجبر والمقابلة).
On the Calculation with Hindu Numerals written about 825, was principally responsible for spreading the Indian system of numeration throughout the Middle East and Europe. It was translated into Latin as Algoritmi de numero Indorum. Al-Khwārizmī, rendered as (Latin) Algoritmi, led to the term "algorithm".
Some of his work was based on Persian and Babylonian astronomy, Indian numbers, and Greek mathematics.
Al-Khwārizmī systematized and corrected Ptolemy's data for Africa and the Middle east. Another major book was Kitab surat al-ard ("The Image of the Earth"; translated as Geography), presenting the coordinates of places based on those in the Geography of Ptolemy but with improved values for the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, and Africa.
He also wrote on mechanical devices like the astrolabe and sundial.
He assisted a project to determine the circumference of the Earth and in making a world map for al-Ma'mun, the caliph, overseeing 70 geographers.
When, in the 12th century, his works spread to Europe through Latin translations, it had a profound impact on the advance of mathematics in Europe. He introduced Arabic numerals into the Latin West, based on a place-value decimal system developed from Indian sources.

Al-Kitāb al-mukhtasar fī isāb al-jabr wa-l-muqābala (Arabic: الكتاب المختصر في حساب الجبر والمقابلة “The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing”) is a mathematical book written approximately 830 CE. The book was written with the encouragement of the Caliph Al-Ma'mun as a popular work on calculation and is replete with examples and applications to a wide range of problems in trade, surveying and legal inheritance. The term algebra is derived from the name of one of the basic operations with equations (al-jabr) described in this book. The book was translated in Latin as Liber algebrae et almucabala by Robert of Chester (Segovia, 1145) hence "algebra", and also by Gerard of Cremona. A unique Arabic copy is kept at Oxford and was translated in 1831 by F. Rosen. A Latin translation is kept in Cambridge.
The al-jabr is considered the foundational text of modern algebra. It provided an exhaustive account of solving polynomial equations up to the second degree, and introduced the fundamental methods of "reduction" and "balancing", referring to the transposition of subtracted terms to the other side of an equation, that is, the cancellation of like terms on opposite sides of the equation.

Al-Khwārizmī's second major work was on the subject of arithmetic, which survived in a Latin translation but was lost in the original Arabic. The translation was most likely done in the twelfth century by Adelard of Bath, who had also translated the astronomical tables in 1126.
The Latin manuscripts are untitled, but are commonly referred to by the first two words with which they start: Dixit algorizmi ("So said al-Khwārizmī"), or Algoritmi de numero Indorum ("al-Khwārizmī on the Hindu Art of Reckoning"), a name given to the work by Baldassarre Boncompagni in 1857. The original Arabic title was possibly Kitāb al-Jam' wa-l-tafrīq bi-hisāb al-Hind ("The Book of Addition and Subtraction According to the Hindu Calculation")
Al-Khwarizmi's work on arithmetic was responsible for introducing the Arabic numerals, based on the Hindu-Arabic numeral system developed in Indian mathematics, to the Western world. The term "algorithm" is derived from the algorism, the technique of performing arithmetic with Hindu-Arabic numerals developed by al-Khwarizmi. Both "algorithm" and "algorism" are derived from the Latinized forms of al-Khwarizmi's name, Algoritmi and Algorismi, respectively.

Al-Khwārizmī's Zīj al-Sindhind (Arabic: زيج "astronomical tables of Sind and Hind") is a work consisting of approximately 37 chapters on calendrical and astronomical calculations and 116 tables with calendrical, astronomical and astrological data, as well as a table of sine values. This is the first of many Arabic Zijes based on the Indian astronomical methods known as the sindhind. The work contains tables for the movements of the sun, the moon and the five planets known at the time. This work marked the turning point in Islamic astronomy. Hitherto, Muslim astronomers had adopted a primarily research approach to the field, translating works of others and learning already discovered knowledge. Al-Khwarizmi's work marked the beginning of non-traditional methods of study and calculations.
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