Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi was a Muslim mathematician and astronomer who had a great impact on the development of science in the Arab world. Unfortunately, his contribution is often underestimated compared to Western scholars. In fact, he was a man of wisdom who increased the importance of education during his lifetime. He wrote his works in Classical Arabic making his ideas available to the general public. Moreover, al-Khwarizmi combined knowledge from various branches, including algebra and cartography. Later, his works appeared in the universities. His books were translated into European and Chinese languages. In the period of Dark Ages, al-Khwarizmi managed to achieve a crucial breakthrough and to establish a new era of the scientific tradition. The essay focuses on al-Khwarizmi’s key scientific accomplishments, his input in algebra, and geography.
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Unfortunately, scientists do not know much about his life. He was born in Khwarizmi, Southern Persia, in 780. He died in 850. Al-Khwarizmi lived during the reign of Harun al-Rashid. The fifth caliph tried to bring the best intellectual disciplines and traditions to the Arabic world (“Al-Khwarizmi”). He also worked under the patronage of Al-Ma’mun. Being involved in the House of Wisdom, the scientist translated mainly Greek works and conducted his own research (“Al-Khwarizmi: father of algebra”). Indeed, the Greek mathematicians influenced him most. As a result, he studied the Babylonian geometric arguments (“Al-Khwarizmi”). Later, he combined his knowledge of Hindu and Greek scientists to invent the oldest astrological tables. Even though he was able to acquire extensive knowledge inherited from ancestors, al-Khwarizmi was also influenced by the Greeks. The impact of the Indian astronomical scientists also contributed to the development of his theories. Consequently, al-Khwarizmi illustrated how the cultural exchange between nations can improve scientific endeavors.
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Al-Khwarizmi introduced several important accomplishments to humanity. Primarily, he created the first observatory and established the first library since the time of Alexandria. Moreover, he created the House of Wisdom where contributors translated and examined foreign books (“Al-Khwarizmi: father of algebra”). Famous physicians, astrologists, mathematicians, historians, lawyers, and poets devoted their time and energy to the pursuit of learning and teaching. Then, the scholar translated and interpreted Geography, the book of Claudius. Furthermore, he made the first Muslim map of the world, which included the latitudes and longitudes of many places of the ancient world (“Al-Khwarizmi”). Al-Khwarizmi created a work devoted to the creation of mechanical devices, such as clocks and astrolabes. One of the most important contributions of Al-Khwarizmi is the accurate astronomical tables for a circle of radius 150 units (“Al-Khwarizmi: father of algebra”). The theory and construction of sundials were borrowed from Indian and Hellenistic times. His innovative approach made the calculations easier to perform. His inventions were universal as every human being on the Earth might have benefited from them. In addition, the scholar made accurate calculations of parallax and eclipse. Moreover, al-Khwarizmi invented the shadow square which helped to determine the linear height of the object. In fact, his ideas were not limited only to those inventions. He belonged to the team which measured the meridian length (“Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Musa al- Khwarizmi”). He was eager to broaden his experience. Thus, having traveled in Afghanistan and India, he managed to distil deep knowledge into great books.
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He focused mainly on mathematics. The first book defined algebra as a code of rules which were comprised of linear and quadratic equations on the basis of geometric arguments. Similar calculation and the volume of geometric figures appeared in the work of Babylonian mathematics in the early second millennium BC. His book Restoring and Balancing examined the subject. Algoritimi De Numero Indorum was the second piece of writing appeared in the twelfth century. Later, the term ‘algorithm’ originated from the title of the book. The author explains the value of Hindu-Arabic number system in the book forming the system of modern numbers. The third book The Image of the Earth described the geography and location of Asian and African cities and villages. In that book, he also worked on the circumference of the Earth. Al-Khwarizmi is known as the father of algebra who defined the term (“Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi”). Initially, it signified the reunion of fractured parts. The system illustrated the basic operations of the division, multiplication, substation, and addition. He also introduced two processes to solve the equation: the restoration and the opposition. The book on equations consisted of five parts. In the first one, he presented the rules to solve the quadratic equations. Al-Khwarizmi took only positive roots into consideration. The second part of the book proved the results of the first part. Other two parts of his work demonstrated the expression of the form, addition, and subtraction. The last part examined the problems students may face while learning mathematics.
In conclusion, al-Khwarizmi was a Persian astronomer, mathematician, geographer and astrologer who worked and lived in Baghdad. Al-Khwarizmi contributed to the development of education. He focused mainly on the exploration of mathematics, geography, and astronomy. Undoubtedly, his inventions were useful and practical. He invented many important innovations, including calendars, maps, astrological values, and others. He also discovered a true position of the astronomical objects. As a result, the manuals he wrote have immense scientific value even nowadays. Al-Khwarizmi solved the problems of quadratic equations and introduced the geometric foundations which lasted long. His arithmetic accomplishments opened the new era both in the East and in the West. He is called the father of algebra and the grandfather of computer science for the discovery of algorithms.