(c. 780-c.850AD) Baghdad


Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī was born around 780 in Baghdad and died there in or around 850. We know little of his life. He was born in the epicentre of an Islamic empire (Abbasid Caliphate) which then stretched from the Mediterranean to India. This was a very fortuitous time for Persian learning. The rulers of the Abbasid dynasty who were leading this huge empire, founded an academy in Baghdad called the House of Wisdom where the learned men collected and translated all the scientific works that they could get hold of. House of Wisdom had a large library – first famous library established after the library of Alexandria was destroyed.

Al-Khwārizmī was one of the learned men who worked in the House of Wisdom. His interests lied in the fields of algebra, geometry, astronomy and geography. His now most famous work is that from which we got the name for algebra itself – Al-kitāb al-mukhtaṣar fī ḥisāb al-ğabr wa’l-muqābal.

It is not often these days that we talk about Persian or Arabic mathematics, but the period in which al-Khwārizmī lived and the House of Wisdom in which he worked, preserved for us most of the Greek and Byzantine mathematics and science that eventually led to the revival of learning in Europe.