# Al-Khwārizmī

## The Beginnings of Algebra

### Edited by Roshdi Rashed

Al-Khwārizmī was a mathematician, astronomer and geographer. He worked most of his life as a scholar in the House of Wisdom in Baghdad during the first half of the 9th century and is considered by many to be the father of algebra.

His *Algebra (Kitab al-Jabr wa-al-muqabala)*, written around 820 AD, was the first scientific text in history to systematically present algebra as a mathematical discipline that is independent of geometry and arithmetic. This groundbreaking work is divided into two main sections: one, dealing with algebraic theory, and the other focusing on the calculation of inheritances and legacies.

Al-Khwārizmī’s book laid down the groundwork for a scientific field where mathematics and juridical learning meet, which was further developed by successive generations of mathematicians and jurists. This text also highlighted for the first time the deep-rooted possibilities in algebra to extend the use of mathematical disciplines from one to another, such as the application of arithmetic to algebra, or of geometry into algebra, and vice-versa for these three disciplines into one another; hence opening up novel areas of mathematical research. Latin translations of al-Khwārizmī’s book began in the 12th century, and these texts held a continuous influence over algebra and mathematics until the 16th century.

Roshdi Rashed’s book is the first Arabic critical edition of al-Khwārizmī’s *Algebra*. It is also the first scholarly annotated translation into English that contains an introductory essay and extensive commentaries on the text that bring the reader back as faithfully as possible to al-Khwārizmī’s original text.

### About the Editor(s)

Roshdi Rashed is a leading authority in history and philosophy of science and mathematics. He is Senior Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris, and a former Professor at the University of Tokyo. He has published widely in French and Arabic, and his books in English include: *The Development of Arabic Mathematics: Between Arithmetic and Algebra* (1994), *Encyclopaedia of the History of Arabic Science* (1996), *Omar Khayyam: The Mathematician* (2000), and *Geometry and Dioptrics in Classical Islam* (2005).