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# A Brief Look at the Origin of Algebra

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A Brief Look at the Origin of Algebra
Connie Beach
Professor Clifton E. Collins, Sr.
Math 105: Introduction to College Mathematics
May 22, 2010 Abstract
Diophantus of Alexandria, (who lived around 200 – 298 A.D.), carried on the traditions of Egypt and Babylon. He was a Greek mathematician, who was also the author of Arithmetica, a book that gives many solutions to complicated undefined equations. He is sometimes called “the father of algebra”, because he contributed to the number theory and mathematical notation (Diophantus, 2010). The word algebra actually comes from the word al-jabr which is from the work of Abū ʿAbdallāh Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, (who lived around 780 – 850 A.D.). He was a Persian mathematician, astronomer and geographer; who lived in Baghdad, Iraq. He wrote Kitab al-Jabr wa-l-Muqabala, one of the first Arabic algebras; it demonstrated the analytical solution of linear and quadratic equations. He is credited as being the founder of algebra, one that he shares with Diophantus (Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, 2010).
Although algebra had originated more than 4000 years ago, it wasn’t until the 16th century that symbolism were introduced, where the use of letters were used for the unknown. The algebraic notation had gone through three stages: rhetorical, syncopated, and symbolic stages. The rhetorical stage, used during the ancient Egypt and Babylon times, is where the equations were solved verbally. The syncopated stage, which was introduced during Diophantus’ time, is where the words were abbreviated. And then the symbolic stage is how we know algebra today (Highlights in the History of Algebra).
In conclusion, I find that Algebra has been around for more than 4000 years. It started in ancient Egypt and Babylon, but was carried on by Diophantus, who is known as the “father of algebra”. The word Algebra comes from the word al-jabr, from the works of Abū ʿAbdallāh Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, who is also known as the founder of algebra. But the algebra that we know of today wasn’t developed until around the 16th century. I find it really interesting that the development of algebra was based in the Middle East, which is where civilization had begun; but I’ll save that discussion for the next paper I need to write about. References
Diophantus. (2010, May 9). Retrieved May 22, 2010, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diophantus
Highlights in the History of Algebra. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2010, from UL of Lafayette: http://www.ucs.louisiana.edu/~sxw8045/history.htm
Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī. (2010, May 19). Retrieved May 22, 2010, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_ibn_M%C5%ABs%C4%81_al-Khw%C4%81rizm%C4%AB…...

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