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Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi was a 9th century Muslim mathematician and author whose work was fundamental to the development of the field of mathematics. He was born in about 780 A.D. in the town of Khwarizm (Kheva), in what is now Uzbekistan. His family moved soon afterward, to a place near Baghdad, where he accomplished most of his work in the period between 813 and 833. He died in about 845. He published most of his scientific works in Arabic, the scientific language of that time, but his native language was Persian. 'Al-Khwarizmi' is the arabicized form of 'Kawarizmi' (Al- is the definite article in Arabic); 'Khwarizmi' means from Khwarizm.

He is best known for developing the concept of the algorithm in mathematics, and the word "algorithm" itself comes from a translation of his name, but he also made major contributions to the fields of algebra, trigonometry, astronomy, geography, and cartography. His systematic and logical approach to solving linear and quadratic equations gave shape to the discipline of algebra, a word that is derived from the name of his 830 book on the subject, Hisab al-jabr wal-muqabala.

While his major contributions were the result of original research, he also did much to synthesize the existing knowledge in these fields from Greek, Indian, and other sources, stamping them with his unique mark of logic and rigor. He appropriated the place-marker symbol of zero, which originated in India, and he is also responsible for the use of Arabic numerals in mathematics that forever changed the way the world thinks about numbers.

Al-Khwarizmi was familiar with Ptolemy's research in geography, which he systematized and corrected, using his own original findings. He supervised the work of 70 geographers to create the first map of the known world. When his work became known in Europe through Latin translations, his influence made an indelible mark on the development of science in the West: His algebra book introduced that discipline to Europe and became the standard mathematical text at European universities until the 16th century. He also wrote on mechanical devices like the clock, astrolabe, and sundial.

Mathematics and the sciences that are expressed in terms of mathematics would not be what they are today without the ground-breaking contributions of Al-Khwarizmi.

External link:

al'Khwarizmi & algebra (http://members.aol.com/bbyars1/algebra)

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