The Info List - Islamic Mathematics

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during the Golden Age of Islam, especially during the 9th and 10th centuries, was built on Greek mathematics
Greek mathematics
(Euclid, Archimedes, Apollonius) and Indian mathematics
Indian mathematics
(Aryabhata, Brahmagupta). Important progress was made, such as the full development of the decimal place-value system to include decimal fractions, the first systematised study of algebra (named for The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing by scholar Al-Khwarizmi), and advances in geometry and trigonometry.[1] Arabic works also played an important role in the transmission of mathematics to Europe during the 10th to 12th centuries.[2]


1 History

1.1 Algebra 1.2 Cubic equations 1.3 Induction 1.4 Irrational numbers 1.5 Spherical trigonometry

2 Other major figures 3 Gallery 4 See also 5 References 6 Sources 7 Further reading 8 External links


Omar Khayyám's "Cubic equations and intersections of conic sections" the first page of the two-chaptered manuscript kept in Tehran University

Algebra[edit] Further information: History of algebra The study of algebra, the name of which is derived from the Arabic word meaning completion or "reunion of broken parts",[3] flourished during the Islamic golden age. Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, a scholar in the House of Wisdom
House of Wisdom
in Baghdad, is along with the Greek mathematician Diophantus, known as the father of algebra. In his book The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing, Al-Khwarizmi
deals with ways to solve for the positive roots of first and second degree (linear and quadratic) polynomial equations. He also introduces the method of reduction, and unlike Diophantus, gives general solutions for the equations he deals with.[4][5][6] Al-Khwarizmi's algebra was rhetorical, which means that the equations were written out in full sentences. This was unlike the algebraic work of Diophantus, which was syncopated, meaning that some symbolism is used. The transition to symbolic algebra, where only symbols are used, can be seen in the work of Ibn al-Banna' al-Marrakushi and Abū al-Ḥasan ibn ʿAlī al-Qalaṣādī.[7][6] On the work done by Al-Khwarizmi, J. J. O'Connor and Edmund F. Robertson said:[8]

"Perhaps one of the most significant advances made by Arabic mathematics began at this time with the work of al-Khwarizmi, namely the beginnings of algebra. It is important to understand just how significant this new idea was. It was a revolutionary move away from the Greek concept of mathematics which was essentially geometry. Algebra
was a unifying theory which allowed rational numbers, irrational numbers, geometrical magnitudes, etc., to all be treated as "algebraic objects". It gave mathematics a whole new development path so much broader in concept to that which had existed before, and provided a vehicle for the future development of the subject. Another important aspect of the introduction of algebraic ideas was that it allowed mathematics to be applied to itself in a way which had not happened before." — MacTutor History of Mathematics

Several other mathematicians during this time period expanded on the algebra of Al-Khwarizmi. Omar Khayyam, along with Sharaf al-Dīn al-Tūsī, found several solutions of the cubic equation. Omar Khayyam found the general geometric solution of a cubic equation. Cubic equations[edit]

To solve the third-degree equation x3 + a2x = b Khayyám constructed the parabola x2 = ay, a circle with diameter b/a2, and a vertical line through the intersection point. The solution is given by the length of the horizontal line segment from the origin to the intersection of the vertical line and the x-axis.

Further information: Cubic equation Omar Khayyam
Omar Khayyam
(c. 1038/48 in Iran
– 1123/24)[9] wrote the Treatise on Demonstration of Problems of Algebra
containing the systematic solution of cubic or third-order equations, going beyond the Algebra of al-Khwārizmī.[10] Khayyám obtained the solutions of these equations by finding the intersection points of two conic sections. This method had been used by the Greeks,[11] but they did not generalize the method to cover all equations with positive roots.[10] Sharaf al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī (? in Tus, Iran
– 1213/4) developed a novel approach to the investigation of cubic equations—an approach which entailed finding the point at which a cubic polynomial obtains its maximum value. For example, to solve the equation




+ a = b x

displaystyle x^ 3 +a=bx

, with a and b positive, he would note that the maximum point of the curve

  y = b x −



displaystyle y=bx-x^ 3

occurs at

x =

b 3

displaystyle x=textstyle sqrt frac b 3

, and that the equation would have no solutions, one solution or two solutions, depending on whether the height of the curve at that point was less than, equal to, or greater than a. His surviving works give no indication of how he discovered his formulae for the maxima of these curves. Various conjectures have been proposed to account for his discovery of them.[12] Induction[edit] See also: Mathematical induction § History The earliest implicit traces of mathematical induction can be found in Euclid's proof that the number of primes is infinite (c. 300 BCE). The first explicit formulation of the principle of induction was given by Pascal in his Traité du triangle arithmétique (1665). In between, implicit proof by induction for arithmetic sequences was introduced by al-Karaji (c. 1000) and continued by al-Samaw'al, who used it for special cases of the binomial theorem and properties of Pascal's triangle. Irrational numbers[edit] The Greeks had discovered irrational numbers, but were not happy with them and only able to cope by drawing a distinction between magnitude and number. In the Greek view, magnitudes varied continuously and could be used for entities such as line segments, whereas numbers were discrete. Hence, irrationals could only be handled geometrically; and indeed Greek mathematics
Greek mathematics
was mainly geometrical. Islamic mathematicians including Abū Kāmil Shujāʿ ibn Aslam and Ibn Tahir al-Baghdadi slowly removed the distinction between magnitude and number, allowing irrational quantities to appear as coefficients in equations and to be solutions of algebraic equations.[13][14] They worked freely with irrationals as mathematical objects, but they did not examine closely their nature.[15] In the twelfth century, Latin
translations of Al-Khwarizmi's Arithmetic on the Indian numerals
Indian numerals
introduced the decimal positional number system to the Western world.[16] His Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing presented the first systematic solution of linear and quadratic equations. In Renaissance
Europe, he was considered the original inventor of algebra, although it is now known that his work is based on older Indian or Greek sources.[17] He revised Ptolemy's Geography and wrote on astronomy and astrology. However, C.A. Nallino suggests that al-Khwarizmi's original work was not based on Ptolemy
but on a derivative world map,[18] presumably in Syriac or Arabic. Spherical trigonometry[edit] Further information: Law of sines
Law of sines
and History of trigonometry The spherical law of sines was discovered in the 10th century: it has been attributed variously to Abu-Mahmud Khojandi, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi and Abu Nasr Mansur, with Abu al-Wafa' Buzjani
Abu al-Wafa' Buzjani
as a contributor.[13] Ibn Muʿādh al-Jayyānī's The book of unknown arcs of a sphere in the 11th century introduced the general law of sines.[19] The plane law of sines was described in the 13th century by Nasīr al-Dīn al-Tūsī. In his On the Sector Figure, he stated the law of sines for plane and spherical triangles, and provided proofs for this law.[20]

Other major figures[edit]

'Abd al-Hamīd ibn Turk (fl. 830) (quadratics) Thabit ibn Qurra
Thabit ibn Qurra
(826–901) Sind ibn Ali (d. after 864) Ismail al-Jazari
Ismail al-Jazari
(1136–1206) Abū Sahl al-Qūhī
Abū Sahl al-Qūhī
(c. 940–1000) (centers of gravity) Abu'l-Hasan al-Uqlidisi (952–953) (arithmetic) 'Abd al-'Aziz al-Qabisi (d. 967) Ibn al-Haytham
Ibn al-Haytham
(ca. 965–1040) Abū al-Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī
Abū al-Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī
(973–1048) (trigonometry) Ibn Maḍāʾ (c. 1116–1196) Jamshīd al-Kāshī (c. 1380–1429) (decimals and estimation of the circle constant)


Engraving of Abū Sahl al-Qūhī's perfect compass to draw conic sections.

The theorem of Ibn Haytham.

See also[edit]

Arabic numerals Indian influence on Islamic mathematics in medieval Islam History of calculus History of geometry Science in the medieval Islamic world Timeline of Islamic science and technology


^ Katz (1993): "A complete history of mathematics of medieval Islam cannot yet be written, since so many of these Arabic manuscripts lie unstudied... Still, the general outline... is known. In particular, Islamic mathematicians fully developed the decimal place-value number system to include decimal fractions, systematised the study of algebra and began to consider the relationship between algebra and geometry, studied and made advances on the major Greek geometrical treatises of Euclid, Archimedes, and Apollonius, and made significant improvements in plane and spherical geometry." Smith (1958) Vol. 1, Chapter VII.4: "In a general way it may be said that the Golden Age of Arabian mathematics was confined largely to the 9th and 10th centuries; that the world owes a great debt to Arab scholars for preserving and transmitting to posterity the classics of Greek mathematics; and that their work was chiefly that of transmission, although they developed considerable originality in algebra and showed some genius in their work in trigonometry." ^ Adolph P. Yushkevich
Adolph P. Yushkevich
Sertima, Ivan Van (1992), Golden age of the Moor, Volume 11, Transaction Publishers, p. 394, ISBN 1-56000-581-5  "The Islamic mathematicians exercised a prolific influence on the development of science in Europe, enriched as much by their own discoveries as those they had inherited by the Greeks, the Indians, the Syrians, the Babylonians, etc." ^ "algebra". Online Etymology Dictionary.  ^ Boyer, Carl B. (1991). "The Arabic Hegemony". A History of Mathematics
(Second ed.). John Wiley & Sons. p. 228. ISBN 0-471-54397-7.  ^ Swetz, Frank J. (1993). Learning Activities from the History of Mathematics. Walch Publishing. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-8251-2264-4.  ^ a b Gullberg, Jan (1997). Mathematics: From the Birth of Numbers. W. W. Norton. p. 298. ISBN 0-393-04002-X.  ^ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "al-Marrakushi ibn Al-Banna", MacTutor History of Mathematics
archive, University of St Andrews . ^ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Arabic mathematics: forgotten brilliance?", MacTutor History of Mathematics
archive, University of St Andrews . ^ Struik 1987, p. 96. ^ a b Boyer 1991, pp. 241–242. ^ Struik 1987, p. 97. ^ Berggren, J. Lennart; Al-Tūsī, Sharaf Al-Dīn; Rashed, Roshdi (1990). "Innovation and Tradition in Sharaf al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī's al-Muʿādalāt". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 110 (2): 304–309. doi:10.2307/604533. JSTOR 604533.  ^ a b Sesiano, Jacques (2000). Helaine, Selin; Ubiratan, D'Ambrosio, eds. Islamic mathematics. Mathematics
Across Cultures: The History of Non-western Mathematics. Springer. pp. 137–157. ISBN 1-4020-0260-2.  ^ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Abu Mansur ibn Tahir Al-Baghdadi", MacTutor History of Mathematics
archive, University of St Andrews . ^ Allen, G. Donald (n.d.). "The History of Infinity" (PDF). Texas A&M University. Retrieved 7 September 2016.  ^ Struik 1987, p. 93 ^ Rosen 1831, p. v–vi; Toomer 1990 ^ Nallino (1939). ^ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Abu Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Muadh Al-Jayyani", MacTutor History of Mathematics
archive, University of St Andrews . ^ Berggren, J. Lennart (2007). " Mathematics
in Medieval Islam". The Mathematics
of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, India, and Islam: A Sourcebook. Princeton University Press. p. 518. ISBN 978-0-691-11485-9. 


Boyer, Carl B. (1991), "Greek Trigonometry
and Mensuration, and The Arabic Hegemony", A History of Mathematics
(2nd ed.), New York City: John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 0-471-54397-7  Nallino, C.A. (1939), "Al-Ḥuwārismī e il suo rifacimento della Geografia di Tolomeo", Raccolta di scritti editi e inediti, V, Rome: Istituto per l'Oriente, pp. 458–532 . (in Italian) Struik, Dirk J. (1987), A Concise History of Mathematics
(4th rev. ed.), Dover Publications, ISBN 0-486-60255-9 

Further reading[edit]

Books on Islamic mathematics

Berggren, J. Lennart (1986). Episodes in the Mathematics
of Medieval Islam. New York: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 0-387-96318-9. 

Review: Toomer, Gerald J.; Berggren, J. L. (1988). "Episodes in the Mathematics
of Medieval Islam". American Mathematical Monthly. Mathematical Association of America. 95 (6): 567. doi:10.2307/2322777. JSTOR 2322777.  Review: Hogendijk, Jan P.; Berggren, J. L. (1989). "Episodes in the Mathematics
of Medieval Islam by J. Lennart Berggren". Journal of the American Oriental Society. American Oriental Society. 109 (4): 697–698. doi:10.2307/604119. JSTOR 604119. 

Daffa', Ali Abdullah al- (1977). The Muslim contribution to mathematics. London: Croom Helm. ISBN 0-85664-464-1.  Katz, Victor J. (1993). A History of Mathematics: An Introduction. HarperCollins college publishers. ISBN 0-673-38039-4.  Ronan, Colin A. (1983). The Cambridge Illustrated History of the World's Science. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-25844-8.  Smith, David E. (1958). History of Mathematics. Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-20429-4.  Rashed, Roshdi (2001). The Development of Arabic Mathematics: Between Arithmetic and Algebra. Translated by A. F. W. Armstrong. Springer. ISBN 0-7923-2565-6.  Rosen, Fredrick (1831). The Algebra
of Mohammed Ben Musa. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 1-4179-4914-7.  Toomer, Gerald (1990). "Al-Khwārizmī, Abu Ja'far Muḥammad ibn Mūsā". In Gillispie, Charles Coulston. Dictionary of Scientific Biography. 7. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 0-684-16962-2.  Youschkevitch, Adolf P.; Rozenfeld, Boris A. (1960). Die Mathematik der Länder des Ostens im Mittelalter. Berlin.  Sowjetische Beiträge zur Geschichte der Naturwissenschaft pp. 62–160. Youschkevitch, Adolf P. (1976). Les mathématiques arabes: VIIIe–XVe siècles. translated by M. Cazenave and K. Jaouiche. Paris: Vrin. ISBN 978-2-7116-0734-1. 

Book chapters on Islamic mathematics

Berggren, J. Lennart (2007). " Mathematics
in Medieval Islam". In Victor J. Katz. The Mathematics
of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, India, and Islam: A Sourcebook (Second ed.). Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University. ISBN 978-0-691-11485-9.  Cooke, Roger (1997). "Islamic Mathematics". The History of Mathematics: A Brief Course. Wiley-Interscience. ISBN 0-471-18082-3. 

Books on Islamic science

Daffa, Ali Abdullah al-; Stroyls, J.J. (1984). Studies in the exact sciences in medieval Islam. New York: Wiley. ISBN 0-471-90320-5.  Kennedy, E. S. (1984). Studies in the Islamic Exact Sciences. Syracuse Univ Press. ISBN 0-8156-6067-7. 

Books on the history of mathematics

Joseph, George Gheverghese (2000). The Crest of the Peacock: Non-European Roots of Mathematics
(2nd ed.). Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-00659-8.  (Reviewed: Katz, Victor J.; Joseph, George Gheverghese (1992). "The Crest of the Peacock: Non-European Roots of Mathematics
by George Gheverghese Joseph". The College Mathematics
Journal. Mathematical Association of America. 23 (1): 82–84. doi:10.2307/2686206. JSTOR 2686206. ) Youschkevitch, Adolf P. (1964). Gesichte der Mathematik im Mittelalter. Leipzig: BG Teubner Verlagsgesellschaft. 

Journal articles on Islamic mathematics

Høyrup, Jens. “The Formation of «Islamic Mathematics»: Sources and Conditions”. Filosofi og Videnskabsteori på Roskilde Universitetscenter. 3. Række: Preprints og Reprints 1987 Nr. 1.

Bibliographies and biographies

Brockelmann, Carl. Geschichte der Arabischen Litteratur. 1.–2. Band, 1.–3. Supplementband. Berlin: Emil Fischer, 1898, 1902; Leiden: Brill, 1937, 1938, 1942. Sánchez Pérez, José A. (1921). Biografías de Matemáticos Árabes que florecieron en España. Madrid: Estanislao Maestre.  Sezgin, Fuat (1997). Geschichte Des Arabischen Schrifttums (in German). Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 90-04-02007-1.  Suter, Heinrich (1900). Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber und ihre Werke. Abhandlungen zur Geschichte der Mathematischen Wissenschaften Mit Einschluss Ihrer Anwendungen, X Heft. Leipzig. 

Television documentaries

Marcus du Sautoy
Marcus du Sautoy
(presenter) (2008). "The Genius of the East". The Story of Maths. BBC. Jim Al-Khalili
Jim Al-Khalili
(presenter) (2010). Science and Islam. BBC.

External links[edit]

Hogendijk, Jan P. (January 1999). "Bibliography of Mathematics
in Medieval Islamic Civilization".  O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Arabic mathematics: forgotten brilliance?", MacTutor History of Mathematics
archive, University of St Andrews . Richard Covington, Rediscovering Arabic Science, 2007, Saudi Aramco World

v t e

in medieval Islam


9th century

'Abd al-Hamīd ibn Turk Sind ibn Ali al-Jawharī Al-Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf Al-Kindi Al-Mahani al-Dinawari Banū Mūsā Hunayn ibn Ishaq al-Khwārizmī Yusuf Al-Khuri ibn Qurra Na'im ibn Musa Sahl ibn Bishr al-Marwazi Abu Said Gorgani

10th century

al-Sufi Abu al-Wafa al-Khāzin Abū Kāmil Al-Qabisi al-Khojandi Ahmad ibn Yusuf Aṣ-Ṣaidanānī al-Uqlidisi Al-Nayrizi Al-Saghani Brethren of Purity Ibn Sahl Ibn Yunus Ibrahim ibn Sinan Al-Battani Sinan ibn Thabit Al-Isfahani Nazif ibn Yumn al-Qūhī Abu al-Jud al-Majriti al-Jabali

11th century

al-Zarqālī Abu Nasr Mansur Said al-Andalusi Ibn al-Samh Al-Biruni Alhazen ibn Fatik Al-Sijzi al-Nasawī Al-Karaji Avicenna Muhammad al-Baghdadi ibn Hud al-Jayyānī Kushyar Gilani Al-Muradi Al-Isfizari Abu Mansur al-Baghdadi

12th century

Al-Samawal al-Maghribi Avempace Al-Khazini Omar Khayyam Jabir ibn Aflah al-Hassar Al-Kharaqī Sharaf al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī Ibn al-Yasamin

13th century

al-Hanafi al-Abdari Muhyi al-Dīn al-Maghribī Ibn 'Adlan Nasir al-Din al-Tusi Shams al-Dīn al-Samarqandī Ibn al‐Ha'im al‐Ishbili Ibn Abi al-Shukr al-Hasan al-Marrakushi

14th century

al-Umawī Ibn al-Banna' Ibn Shuayb Ibn al-Shatir Kamāl al-Dīn al-Fārisī Al-Khalili Qutb al-Din al-Shirazi Ahmad al-Qalqashandi Ibn al-Durayhim

15th century

al-Qalaṣādī Ali Qushji al-Wafa'i al-Kāshī al-Rūmī Ulugh Beg Ibn al-Majdi Sibt al-Maridini al-Kubunani

16th century

Al-Birjandi Muhammad Baqir Yazdi Taqi ad-Din Ibn Hamza al-Maghribi Ibn Ghazi al-Miknasi Ahmad Ibn al-Qadi

Mathematical works

The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing De Gradibus Principles of Hindu Reckoning Book of Optics The Book of Healing Almanac Encyclopedia of the Brethren of Purity Toledan Tables Tabula Rogeriana Zij


Alhazen's problem Islamic geometric patterns


Al-Azhar University Al-Mustansiriya University House of Knowledge House of Wisdom Constantinople observatory of Taqi al-Din Madrasa Maktab Maragheh observatory University of Al Quaraouiyine


Babylonian mathematics Greek mathematics Indian mathematics


Byzantine mathematics European mathematics