A Muslim mathematician, astronomer, and geographer, who wrote on Hindu-Arabic numerals and was among the first to use zero as a place holder in positional base notation. The word algorithm derives from his name. His algebra treatiseHisab al-jabr w’al-muqabala gives us the word algebra and can be considered as the first book to be written on algebra. He was born around 780 in Khwārizm (now Khiva, Uzbekistan) and died around 850. He worked most of his life as a scholar in the House of Wisdom in Baghdad.
For a detailed discussion of how Al-Khawarizmi solved the problem of completing the square see the St. Andrews University website on the history of mathematics.
From Article by: J J O’Connor and E F Robertson
His Kitab fi ‘l-jabr wa-‘l-muqabala (Book on algebra and in opposition) was the first book on the systematic solution of linear and quadratic equations. Consequently he is considered to be the father of algebra. Latin translations of hisArithmetic, on the Indian numerals, introduced the decimal positional number system to the Western world in the 12th century.
See for a biography and review of al-Khwarizmi’s mathematical contribution: Full MacTutor biography. See also “Al-Khwarizmi, Abdu’l-Hamid Ibn Turk and the Place of Central Asia in the History of Science”.
BBC Travel: Where algebra got its name from
Amazing snapshots from Khiva (formally known as Khawarizm) in Uzbekistan. The birth place of the famous mathematician Al-Khawarizmi (780 – 850 CE). A prosperous centre of learning during the Golden Age of Muslim Civilisation. (Source BBC)
…from Khiva (formally known as Khawarizm) in Uzbekistan (Source)
Where algebra got its name
Central Asia was a world centre of learning for centuries, and Khiva was no exception. Abū ‘Abdallāh Muḥammad ibn Mūsā Al-Khwārizm, a Persian scholar born around 780, is sometimes called the “grandfather of computer science” and is credited with popularising the use of the decimal point. In fact, the word “algebra” comes from his algebraic mathematical treatise, called Hisab al-Jabr w’al-muqabala (The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing). His legacy can be seen in the statue erected outside the West Gate.
A walk back through time
With a history stretching back more than 2,000 years, the Uzbekistani city of Khiva is a World Heritage Site packed full with the remains of palaces, mosques and mausoleums from the city’s Silk Road heyday. Surrounded by the Kyzylkum and Karakum deserts, the bustling oasis was the last stop for caravans on their way to Iran, carrying everything from paper, porcelain and spices to slaves, horses and fruit. Not only is history on display all around, but modern buildings have been harmoniously integrated, creating an urban composition that showcases Islamic architecture at its finest…
Further Reading: Muslim Heritage – “Contribution of Al-Khwarizmi to Mathematics and Geography” by N. Akmal Ayyubi