Al-Khwarizmi The Father of Algebra Mahmudul Hasan Jobayer
Abu Ja’far Mohammad Ibn Musa Al-Khawarizmi, popular in the west as ‘Algorithmi’, was a Persian and Islamic Golden Age Polymath who had appellation in numerous bounds of knowledge as he’s been recognized as the father of Algebra, adopter of zero and the decimal system, astronomer, geographer and cartographer. His principal works popularized Hindu-Arabic numerals and the concepts of algebra in modern mathematics. The modern terms ‘Algorithm’ (the technique of performing arithmetic with Hindu-Arabic numerals developed by al-Khwarizmi) and ‘Algebra’ is abided by the Latinised versions of his name and of his famous works. The Spanish word ‘Guarizmo’, meaning ‘digit’, is derived from the part of his name, Kharijmi (Khoarizmi). Unfortunately, only a little information about the life except of the contributions of Al Kharizmi is known to us.
He was born into a Persian Muslim family at Khwarezm in Central Asia of that time around 780. The Muslim historian Ibn Al-Nadim mentions that Khorasan or Khorajam was the birthplace of this great scientist. Khorasan now belongs to the Jorajam region of Uzbekistan. Nothing about his parents and education is known. Caliph Harun al-Rashid was in power at the time of his birth. While living in Bagdad, Al-Khwarizmi worked at ‘Dar-al-?ikma’, the ‘House of Wisdom’, in Baghdad under the caliphate of Al-Ma?mun, son of Caliph Harun Al-Rashid. House of Wisdom in Baghdad, also known as the ‘Grand Library of Baghdad’, was a centre for study & research and translating scientific and philosophical dissertations, founded by Abbasid Caliph Al Ma’mun. Only the most intelligent Muslim scholars of the time were members of the House of Wisdom. Al-Kharizmi was one of them. He was appointed as the astronomer and head of the library of the House of Wisdom by around 820.
During the Medieval Era’s Translation Movement, Muslim scholars worked extensively on theories and claims of Greek, Babylonian and Indian polymaths. Al-Khawarizmi, during that time, devoted himself in studying the works of many Greek and Indian polymaths. The greatest part of his contributions is in Algebra; when it comes to algebra, the first name that comes to mind is Musa Al-Kharizmi. Owing to his book ‘The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing’ or ‘Al Kitab Al Mukhtar Al Hisab Al Jabar Wal Mukabala’ that developed the concept of the algorithm in mathematics, he is being called ‘The Father of Mathematics’ and ‘The Grandfather of Computer Science’. Kharizmi wrote this book under the inspiration of Caliph Al Mamun that was published in 830 AD. The word ‘Algebra’ is derived from the term ‘Al Jabr’, meaning “restoration”, referring to adding a number to both sides of the equation to remove the negative terms from an equation. Many modern-day sophisticated functions like computer programming, creation of encryption, flight, high-speed transportation etc. are predominantly operated based on Algebra. Al-Kharizmi, in his book, explains the very elemental rules for solving polynomial equation and discusses rules of the solution up to quadratic one. As a result, he reached a solution using conventional symbols and formulas, which was somewhat protracted. Yet, his book is one of the major propellers of progress towards the modernization of mathematics.
Although this book is regarded as the principal treatise of algebra, Al khawarizmi alluded to the purpose of the book as to teach what was easiest and most useful in arithmetic. Some practical circumstances and their solutions in arithmetic such as inheritance, legacies, partition, lawsuits, trade, the measuring of lands, the digging of canals, geometrical computations etc. were mostly the motivational fields of this book and thus, Al-Khwarizmi’s second most influential work was on the subject of arithmetic. Although Much of Al-Kharizmi’s contribution to arithmetic has been lost, many Scholars are supposed to claim that the Latin manuscript found contains most of his works on arithmetic. Most likely, after 1130, the English natural philosopher Adelard of Bath translated the original work of Kharizmi on arithmetic into Latin. The original Arabic copy, whose real name is most probably ‘Kitab Al-Jam’ Wa’l-Tafriq Al-Hisab Al-Hindi’ (‘Addition and subtraction in Indian arithmetic’) is missing. The translation is known as ‘Algoritmi de Numero Indorum’. Another text of his on arithmetic is ‘Kitab Al-Hisab Al-Hindi’ (‘Book of Indian computation’). Most historians have come to the conclusion that it is Al-Kharizmi who introduced Arabic numerals, based on the Hindu–Arabic numeral system developed in Indian mathematics, to the Western world. The Hindu–Arabic numeral system or Indo-Arabic numeral system is a positional decimal numeral system which is the most common system for the symbolic representation of numbers in the modern world; assiduously, he becomes the introducer of the decimal number system in arithmetic.
Al-Khawarzmi’s ‘Zij Al-Sindhind’ (‘Astronomical tables of Siddhanta’) made astrology step into a new dimension which comprises approximately 37 chapters on calendric and astronomical calculations and 116 tables with calendric, astronomical and astrological data, as well as a sine value table. In 1126, the philosopher Adelard of Bath also translated ‘Zij Al-Sindhind’ into Spanish. Two of the four copies of this translation are preserved in France, one in Madrid and one in Oxford. The movements of the sun, the moon and the five planets known at the time were ordered into a tabular method in that book. This one is considered to be the first of the first of multiple Arabic Zijes based on the Indian astronomical methods. Al-Khwarizmi did write a notable book on geography named ‘Kitab ?urat al-Ar?’ or ‘Book of the Description of the Earth’ in 633, which divides meteorological regions of 2402 localities on the basis of latitude and longitude as a basis for a world map. Named as ‘Geography’, the book is based on Ptolemy’s ‘Geography’ which lists with latitudes and longitudes, cities, mountains, seas, islands, geographical regions, and rivers. Although this was based on Ptolemy’s work, Khawarizmi was aware of Ptolemy’s mistakes, and he corrected Ptolemy’s errors concerning the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, and the Indian Ocean. He also includes maps in the manuscript of the book which are deemed on the whole to be more accurate than those of Ptolemy.
Not only in Algebra, Arithmetic, Geography, Astrology, his contributions in the sparkling life also comprises writing treatises in Trigonometry and History. Besides another book in ‘Spherical Trigonometry’ attributed to him, his book ‘Zij al-Sindhind’ includes tables for the trigonometric functions of sines and cosine that expressed accurate sine and cosine tables, also generates the first table of tangents. Al-Kharizmi wrote a pamphlet entitled ‘Ris?la fi istikhraj ta’rikh al-yahud’ or ‘Extraction of the Jewish Era’ where he describes the way of identifying the first day of the year or ‘Tishri’. Al-Khwarizmi accomplished most of his works between 813 and 833 where he considered these arduous works as worship to Allah. This great scientist, who’s been considered one of the most important architects of the Medieval Muslim Golden Age, died approximately at the age of 70 in 850.