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Wait … that’s where algebra comes from?

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

A statue of mathematician al-Khwarizmi

Ben Blum-Smith has a great article up about how certain key mathematicians first explored and refined the concept of negative numbers.

In his article, Blum-Smith dives into original historical source texts (in translation) to explore how the historical process of developing negative numbers parallels how each of us comes to understand negative numbers when we encounter them for the first time.

One of my favorite parts was learning that the title of one of the texts, Kitab al-Jabr wa-l-Muqabala, aka The Compendium on Calculating by Completion and Reduction by Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi, is the origin of the word “algebra.”

Al-Jabr = algebra. AICH!!! So AWESOME!!!

And the treatise’s author, al-Kwarizmi? That’s where the term “algorithm” comes from. SO COOL!!!!!

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