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Who Invented Algebra?

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What would the world be without Algebra? It is a subject that is studied all over the world, and it is a discipline within math that is responsible for many discoveries and understandings. The man who invented Algebra was name Al Khwarizmi. He was a Persian mathematician living in 820 AD, and he wrote a book that displayed the beginnings of Algebra through problems and equations. Without his seminal work, algebra may not have been developed as it was.

Al KhwarizmiAbū ʿAbdallāh Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī or simply Al Khwarizmi was born in 780 AD and died in 850 AD.

Origins of the word ‘Algebra’

Algebra comes from the Arabic word al-jabr. The Latin name for Al Khwarizmi, which was “algoritmi”, roughly translates to “algorithm” or “equation”. This name is fitting because Algebra consists of many equations, algorithms, and problems. Also, it is believed that name  was designed to be a dedication to the author of the first work on Algebra, Al Khwarizmi.


Al-Jabr is also the name of Al Khwarizmi’s book. The book is often referred to, alternately, by a longer title that translates closely to the English phrase, “The Book of Summary Concerning Calculating by Transposition and Reduction”. This translation captures the essence of what is found in his book, and his techniques involving algebraic equations are still taught and learned today.

A major change

Al Khwarizmi’s book brought major changes to the math world. Before his book, Greeks were responsible for most of the world’s understanding of math. The world was used to learning about math in terms of geometry, so Khwarizimi’s algebra was significant change at first. His work would influence later mathematicians including, Isaac Newton. It is believed that Al Khwarizimi was very proud and confident in his work that he successfully sold it to Roman travelers and conquerors, which in turn not only helped the Romans improve their understanding of math, but also helped Khwarizmi to spread his work beyond the Muslim world. Next time you complete an algebraic equation, be sure to thank Al Khwarizmi for his work and book about Algebra!

Math invention: Calculus, numbers, zero and geometry.