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ROBERT OF CHESTER ( Latin
Latin
: Robertus Castrensis) was an English Arabist
Arabist
of the 12th century. He translated several historically important books from Arabic
Arabic
to Latin
Latin
, by authors such as Abu Musa Jabir Ibn Hayyan and Al-Khwarizmi
Al-Khwarizmi
including:

* Liber de compositione alchimiae, translated in 1144, the first book in Europe on alchemy * Liber algebrae et almucabola , Al-Khwārizmī's book about algebra , translated in 1145

In the 1140s Robert worked in Spain, where the division of the country between Muslim and Christian rulers resulted in opportunities for interchange between the different cultures. However, by the end of the decade he had returned to England. Some sources identify him with Robert of Ketton ( Latin
Latin
: Robertus Ketenensis) who was also active as an Arabic- Latin
Latin
translator in the 1140s. However, Ketton
Ketton
and Chester , while both places in England, are a long way apart. Also, when in Spain, Robert of Ketton was based in the Kingdom of Navarre
Kingdom of Navarre
, whereas Robert of Chester
Chester
is known to have worked in Segovia
Segovia
.

While translating Al-Khwārizmī's book about algebra , Robert of Chester
Chester
made an interesting error that lives on today. Arabic
Arabic
script , like Hebrew script, consists of consonants with vowels punctuated underneath and often omitted. The sine originated in India
India
, and was adopted by the Arabs who spelled the consonants as "jb". When Robert translated the word, not understanding the Hindu origin, he supplied Arabic
Arabic
vowels yielding the word for bay or inlet. In Latin, a bay or inlet is sinus. And thus, the origin of the trigonometric function named sine .

SEE ALSO

* Latin
Latin
translations of the 12th century * Louis Charles Karpinski

NOTES

* ^ The Arabic
Arabic
Origin of Liber de compositione alchimiae * ^ A B Robert of Chester
Chester
(1915). Algebra
Algebra
of al-Khowarizmi. Macmillan. * ^ mathforum.org

REFERENCES

* Lo Bello, Anthony. "Robert of Chester". The commentary of Al-Nayrizi on Book I of Euclid's Elements of geometry, with an introduction on the transmission of Euclid's Elements in the Middle Ages. Boston: Brill Academic. pp. 41–44. ISBN 0-391-04192-4 . * Charles Burnett, ‘Ketton, Robert of (fl. 1141–1157)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography , Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press
, 2004. (This is, in effect, a double biography covering both Robert of Ketton and Robert of Chester.)

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