The origin of algebra

The origin of algebra

  • Rafia Mubeen
  • 18 September, 2020

The literal meaning of the word algebra is the reunion of broken parts. It is derived from the Arabic word al-jabr with the same meaning. Algebra is taught as a significant part of mathematics everywhere in the world.

Many of us have one childhood memory in common: hating algebra! It made us cry as children and terrorized us enough to run away from it for the rest of our lives. Barring a few who wanted to pursue it further, everyone opted for something less intimidating as soon as an opportunity appeared.

But the inquisitive souls who want to know more about the subject should find solace in the fact that there have been many more like them for centuries. The roots of algebra date back to the 9th century. It was introduced by Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, who is often termed ‘father of algebra’.  

However, some historians disagree with this account. They believe that even before Khwarizmi, Diophantus was the one who invented algebra. Diophantus was a Hellenistic mathematician.  

In the years that followed, the study gained popularity in different parts of the world. Algebra was refined with input from countries like India, Greece, Iran (then Persia), China, Japan, etc. Scholars presented theories and methods that evolved into different mathematical equations.

The version of algebra that our generation is acquainted with was developed gradually over the years. Studying history increases one’s interest in this rather complicated branch of mathematics. We hope that this text helped do the same for you.

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