We think of an algorithm as something new, but the term actually dates back about 900 years. The word algorithm comes from the name of a Persian mathematical genius, Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi. He was born around 780 AD in the region now known as Uzbekistan…
Muhammad Al-Khwarizmi pursued interests in astronomy, geography, and mathematics. The word algebra, from the Arabic word al-jabr—”jebr being derived from the verb jabara, to reunite, and muqabala, from gabala, to make equal”—is from the Persian scholar’s writings. Learn about Al-Khwarizmi with this BBC Ideas video. Plus, from Story of Mathematics:
Perhaps his most important contribution to mathematics was his strong advocacy of the Hindu numerical system, which Al-Khwarizmi recognized as having the power and efficiency needed to revolutionize Islamic and Western mathematics. The Hindu numerals 1 – 9 and 0 – which have since become known as Hindu-Arabic numerals – were soon adopted by the entire Islamic world. Later, with translations of Al-Khwarizmi’s work into Latin by Adelard of Bath and others in the 12th Century, and with the influence of Fibonacci’s “Liber Abaci” they would be adopted throughout Europe as well.
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