About Islamic Influences in Mathemathics

The Islamic Post

Abu Abdullah Mohammad Ibn Musa al-Khawarizmi –a mathematician, astronomer and geographer– was perhaps one of the greatest mathematicians who ever lived, as, in fact, he was the founder of several branches and basic concepts of mathematics. In the words of Phillip Hitti, he influenced mathematical thought to a greater extent than any other mediaeval writer. His work on algebra was outstanding, as he not only initiated the subject in a systematic form but he also developed it to the extent of giving analytical solutions of linear and quadratic equations. Some have it that the very name Algebra has been derived from his famous book Al-Jabr wa-al-Muqabilah. His arithmetic synthesized Greek and Hindu knowledge and also contained his own contributions of fundamental importance to mathematics and science.

Thus, he explained the use of zero, a numeral of fundamental importance developed by the Arabs. Similarly, he
developed the decimal system and the overall system of numerals, ‘algorithm’ or ‘algorizm’ is named after him. In
addition to introducing what are now generally known as Arabic numerals, he developed at length several arithmetical procedures, including operations on fractions. It was through his work that the system of numerals was first introduced to Arabs and later to Europe, through its translations in European languages. He developed in detail trigonometric tables containing the sine functions, which were probably extrapolated to tangent functions by Maslama. He also perfected the geometric representation of conic sections and developed the calculus of two errors, which practically led him to the concept of differentiation. He is also reported to have collaborated
in the degree measurements ordered by Mamun al-Rashid which were aimed at measuring of volume and the circumference of the earth.

Sciences Upheld in Islam
Many ancient-Greek writings, including the work of Aristotle, were introduced to Europe during the late Middle Ages by Islamic scholars.

The Arab astronomer Al-Khwarizmi wrote several scientific books in the ninth century. Latin scholars later
translated his work in the 13th century – introducing Europeans to the word “Algebra” and the place-value decimal
system still in use today.

The modern use of the Scientific Method was developed in early Muslim philosophy. Arab mathematician, Ibn Al-Haitham, advanced the science of optics in the 10th century, by solving particular problems related to the refraction of light.

These familiar English words have their medieval origins in the language and scientific contributions of Islamic scholars: alkali, alchemy, alcohol, algorithm, almanac, zenith and zero.

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