Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī

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Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Al-Khwarizmi (Mohammad ebne Mūsā Khwārazmī محمد بن موسی خوارزمی) was a Persian[1] mathematician, astronomer, astrologer and geographer. He was born around 780 in Khwārizm, then part of Persia (now Khiva, Uzbekistan) and died around 850. He worked most of his life as a scholar in the House of Wisdom in Baghdad.

His Algebra was the first book on the systematic solution of linear and quadratic equations. Consequently he is considered by many to be the father of algebra,[2] a title some scholars assign to Diophantus. Latin translations of his Arithmetic, on the Indian numerals, introduced the decimal Positional notation|positional number system to the Western world in the twelfth century. He was among the first to use zero as a place holder in positional base notation. The word algorithm derives from his name. He revised and updated Ptolemy's Geography as well as writing several works on astronomy and astrology.

His contributions not only made a great impact on mathematics, but on language as well. The word algebra is derived from al-jabr, one of the two operations used to solve quadratic equations, as described in his book.


  • That fondness for science, ... that affability and condescension which God shows to the learned, that promptitude with which he protects and supports them in the elucidation of obscurities and in the removal of difficulties, has encouraged me to compose a short work on calculating by al-jabr and al-muqabala , confining it to what is easiest and most useful in arithmetic.[3]

[al-jabr means "restoring", referring to the process of moving a subtracted quantity to the other side of an equation; al-muqabala is "comparing" and refers to subtracting equal quantities from both sides of an equation.]


  1. Hogendijk, Jan P. (1998). "al-Khwarzimi". Pythagoras 38 (2): 4–5. Template:ISSN.
  2. Gandz, Solomon (1936). "The Sources of al-Khowārizmī's Algebra". Osiris 1: 263–277. DOI:10.1086/368426. Template:ISSN.
  3. A quotation by Al-Khwarizmi