The word “algebra” comes from the Arabic word al-jabr meaning “restoring.” It passed into mathematics through the book Al-jabr w’al mûqabala (Science of restoring and opposition) of al-Khwārizmī in 830 CE, a work on the solution of equations. In this context, “restoring” meant adding equal terms to both sides and “opposition” meant setting the two sides equal. For many centuries, al-jabr more commonly meant the resetting of broken bones, and the surgical meaning accompanied the mathematical one when “al-jabr” became “algebra” in Spanish, Italian, and English. Even today the surgical meaning is included in the Oxford English Dictionary. Al-Khwārizmīs own name has given us the word “algorithm,” so his work has had a lasting impact on mathematics, even though its content was quite elementary.
KeywordsQuadratic Equation Polynomial Equation Rational Operation Oxford English Dictionary Arabic Word
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