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  • 3/16/2011

The Origins of Algebra


Algebra is an ancient and one of the most basic branches of mathematics. It was not developed or invented by a single person but it evolved over the centuries. The name algebra is itself of Arabic origin. It comes from the Arabic word ‘al-jebr’.

The word was used in a book named ‘The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing’, written by the famous Persian mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa ibn al-Khwarizmi around 820 AD.

The origins of algebra can be traced back to the Babylonians. The Babylonians knew how to deal with cubic and quadratic equations and some other basic concepts of algebra. The Egyptians, however, were more interested in solving only liner equations. Algebra could not attract many mathematicians in Greece. There, they were more interested in studying geometry. The Romans were not particularly fond of mathematics. Although they made significant contributions to philosophy, architecture and other fields, their endeavors to develop algebra (mathematics at large) weren’t equally impressive. When Europe went into the Dark Ages after the collapse of the Roman Empire, the Indians, the Chinese and the Islamic mathematicians made significant contributions in this field.

Then came the Renaissance—the Europeans once again started studying seriously. Books were translated from Arabic into Latin (it was the language of science in Europe during those times) and the subject of mathematics witnessed a revival in Europe. Leonardo Pisano Bogollo, an Italian mathematician is considered the face of that revival age. This happened exactly when the other cultures – the Arabs, the Indians and the Chinese – went into their cultural hibernation.

Source: thegeminigeek.com

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