Al-Khwarizmi: His 3 World Changing Accomplishments

BornSeptember 14th, 786
DiedAugust 7th, 833
Famous Quote“When I consider what people generally want in calculating, I found that it always is a number.”
Known ForInventing modern algebra, fusing Hindu and Arabic numerals to create modern numbers.
Region Of WorldEarly middle ages middle east (modern Iran, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan)

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 these numbers are inventions. The man who created them lived over 1,150 years ago and his name is Al-Khwarizmi.

Today everything we interact with has been influenced by math to some degree. This includes cars, rockets, lights, phones, and the internet. Because of this the impact of Al-Khwarizmi upon society can not be understated.

Out of the large array of accomplishments here are the top 3 of Al-Khwarizmi.

  • Creating the modern number system
  • Father of algebra
  • Created accurate works on geography and astronomy

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Without further ado, here are the 3 great accomplishments of the father of modern math.

1.) Creating The Modern Number System

Al-Khwarizmi lived in the perfect time and perfect spot to interact with the best knowledge from the east and west.

He lived in ancient Persia, which during the 8th century was in the crossroads of intercontinental trade between Asia and Europe.

From the west came the old Greek philosophers and academics. This was a foundation of mathematics, science, and observational science.

The east would send abstract numerical characters such as the number 0.

Al-Khwarizmi would take this combination of knowledge and create one of his most lasting accomplishments: a new numerical number system that could be infinitely scaled at ease.

From this came our modern numerical system of 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. Today we call these Arabic numerals and they are the de facto choice for numerical systems.

Further, because these numbers could be scaled with ease the concept of advanced division and decimal places was introduced. At the time in Europe you would need to have an abacus to perform such an equation.

Almost everything in the world has been impacted by Al-Khwarizmi creation of our modern number system. Math is everywhere and everything; Al-Khwarizmi’s new Arabic numerical system made that possible.

2.) Invented Modern Algebra

The above image demonstrates two competing mathematicians. One the right is a man using an abacus to keep up while Al-Khwarizmi performs algebra on the left.

This image demonstrates how powerful Al-Khwarizmi’s model of math was. In the west he is known by the nickname Algorithmi.

Sometime in the late 8th and early 9th centuries Al-Khwarizmi would publish The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing demonstrating a new way of performing math.

This new type of math provided a way of solving advanced equations by using reduction and balancing of an equation. For the world this was a groundbreaking discovery. In Europe in order to perform such an equation the mathematician would need to use a machine called an abacus.

What would take a European mathematician hours to accomplish Al-Khwarizmi could do in minutes. So powerful was this new type of math that for nearly 800 years Al-Khwarizmi form of Algebra was taught across Europe.

Great minds such as Einstein, Newton, and Hawking all owe thanks to Al-Khwarizmi’s work. Without it things such as rockets, cars, and planes might have never been invented.

3.) Created Accurate Works On Geography And Astronomy

Once creating an easy to use number system Al-Khwarizmi set about applying it to the physical world.

Up until his time the Mediterranean sea was grossly overexaggerated in size by Ptolemy. Armed with algebra, Al-Khwarizmi proved that the actual size of the Mediterranean sea was about 21% smaller than what the Greeks projected.

Further, Al-Khwarizmi predicted that the Atlantic and Indian oceans were not landlocked but rather were vast open bodies of water that were interconnected.

Even more impressive was that this 9th century mathematician wrote 37 chapters on stars and their movements to astonishing accuracy.

Out of these studies Al-Khwarizmi developed a form of basic trigonometry to perform his calculations. He is credited with creating the worlds first easy to use table of tangents for performing algebraic calculations.

To this day scientists across the world have benefited from Al-Khwarizmi research on numbers and how the world works. Whenever we interact with computers, science, or engineering we can think of Al-Khwarizmi.

Historians are just now starting to critically think about Al-Khwarizmi impact within history. It remains to be seen what the full extent of this Arabic mathematician is.

Conclusion

There you have it, an entire article on one the most hidden influential figures in history. Few people have ever studied Al-Khwarizmi and there are even fewer sources dealing with his life.

However one thing is for certain. Upon publishing his theories the entire world began to recognize how powerful algebra and Arabic numbers were and because of this his influence ever year only grows.

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Until next time, I hope you enjoy history.

Sincerely,

Nick