Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi: Father of Algebra


Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi was born in Khwarizmi which is located below the Amu Darya plain. As a scientist, Khwarizmi occupied an important position in the Darul Hukama founded by Ma’mun, the famous Abbasid Caliph. He won the trust of the Caliph and joined the astronomers who were directly led and protected by the Caliph.

Khwarizmi is better known as a mathematician. His mathematical work became a source of knowledge and was the subject of discussion for quite a long time. Khwarizmi was able to systematize Greek and Hindu mathematics. His book of arithmetic entitled Kitab ul Jama wa Tafriq which was translated into Latin under the title Frattati d’Arithmatica which was printed in 1157 can still be found in Rome.

Al-Khwarizmi was the first to explain the use of numbers, including zeros. Thanks to Khwarizmi, Europe learned to use the numbers zero or nil, which makes it easier to apply numeracy in everyday life.

Al-Khwarizmi’s Work

One of his books entitled Hisab al-jabr wal-Muqaballa has been translated into Latin in the 12th century. This work was used up to the 16th century as one of the compulsory mathematics textbooks in European universities. Khwarizmi’s works were also instrumental in introducing Arabic numerals called Alegorism to the Western world. His works have influenced renowned mathematicians, such as Umar Kayam, Leonardo Fibonacci and Jacob Florence.

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Furthermore, Hisab al-jabr wal-Muqaballa which is considered a valuable book contains descriptions and explanations of linear and quadratic equations. He can be considered as an inventor of algebra. It was through her young thoughts that algebra reached its golden age.

His book also contains integration calculations and equations that are advanced through more than 800 examples. He also introduced negative signs, previously unknown in Arabic, accompanied by an explanation of six different examples.

Khwarizmi’s contribution also includes measuring angles. The chart of angular measurements relating to the sine and tangent functions was translated into Latin in 1126 by Adelard of Bath.

Not only as a mathematician, Khwarizmi also stood out in the field of astronomy. Caliph Ma’mun understood the degree of meridian measured by Khwarizmi in the Sanjar Plain, north of Eupharates. The astronomer Caliph Ma’mun used a method that was better than the Greek method.

Musa al-Khwarizmi wrote two astrolabel books, namely Kitab al-Amal bin Asturlab and Kitab Amal al-Asturlab. The first book is about how to use astrolabel, and the second book deals with the art of making astrolabel.

Another work that should not be forgotten is Liber Ysagogarum Alchorism which contains his views on music. Kitab al-Ardh is a book about the shape of the earth and is the basis of geography in Arabic. And Kitab al-Tarikh a history book that contains the story of the return journey of the Caliph Ma’mun to Baghdad. []