Muhammed Ibn Musa al Khwarizmi was a renowned mathematician, astronomer and geographer, who lived during the Abbasid Empire. He is known as the father of algebra.
Some historians believe, he was born in Chorasmia in the year 780 AD (Moore & Mertens, 2011), and died in 850 AD.
Others think that he was born in Qutrubbul, near Baghdad (Morony, 2006). He flourished as a great scholar in the ‘House of Wisdom’ in Bagdad, under the rule of Kalif al-Mamun.
Bagdad brightened the world at that time with its brilliance, and the intellectual dominance of the Arab civilization influenced the Western Europe to a great extent (Riesler, 1995). Al Khwarizmi’s algebra reflected Arab’s superior civilization, and his new ideas and thoughts propelled Arab wisdom.
His contributions to astronomy, geography, and mathematics were unparalleled, and they became the landmarks in human history.
Al Khwarizmi’s arithmetic defined the Indian numeration, and acquainted Europe with the Arabic numbers. The Western Europe became aware of the Arab numbering system, decimal points and numbers from his books. Al Khwarizmi used the word “Kasra” to clarify the fractions.
His arithmetic work, Algorimus, was a Latin version of his previous work, and the word algorithm was derived from it. Another book written by him on astronomy dealt with calendars, zodiac positions, sine tables and tangents and calculation of eclipses. The Zij al-Sindhind is also a great work by him on astronomy.
Al-Khwarizmi’s book titled Surat al-Ard is based on Ptolemy’s geographical findings. He prepared a new world map, which became the milestone in geography at that time. In addition, he reconstructed the sundials, the shadow square and the alidade for making angular observations.
Thus, he spread new ideas and knowledge in the world, which exemplified the Arab civilization. It is through him that the entire Europe and other countries came to know about the Indian numerals, Arabic algebra and mathematics, without which the present day civilization and science would not have accomplished progress.
Moore, C., & Mertens, S. (2011). The Nature of Computation. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
Morony, M. G. (2006). Iraq After the Muslim Conquest, NJ, USA: Gorgias Press.
Riesler, J. C. (1955). La Civilization Arabe (Arab Civilization). Paris, France: Payot.