(801 – 873 AD)
A nifty polymath who flourished during the Islamic Golden Age, Abu-Yusuf Al-Kindi is among the most versatile scholars of all time. From arts to sciences; and from commerce to administration, he excelled in whatever field he embraced. His indelible marks ramified Medicine, Mathematics, Statistics, Optics, Ethics, Logic, Astronomy, Agriculture, Literature, Cryptography, Geology, Meteorology, Philosophy, Theology, Linguistics, and even Music. No field of study which existed during his era escaped his intrusion: culminating in over 300 treatises. Behind only Al-Khwarizmi and Ibn-Aslam Shuja, he played a leading role in disseminating Indo-Arabic Numerals within the Arabian Peninsula, in Persia, and beyond. He was the first scholar who delved deeply into Statistics; and in the process, showcased its power as analytical tool. Centuries later, Gerolamo Cardano and Christiaan Huygens would appreciate him for that. Likewise, his seminal works on Cryptography were over 800 years ahead of their time. And they remained topnotch until Euro-successors (like Blaise Pascal, Gottfried Leibniz, Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, John von Neumann and Alan Turin) took them farther. Alhazen, who is now deemed the “Father of Optics”, learnt his trade from Al-Kindi. Thanks to the Geometrical Optics masterpiece (known now in Latin as De Aspectibus), which inspired him. Although nearly all of Al-Kindi’s publications have been lost, the survivors are mostly translated versions. Others exist as mere references and citations (by succeeding scholars). Among his currently available English versions are: Manuscript on Deciphering Cryptographic Messages, Treatise on the Judgement of Eclipses, and The Book of Chemistry of Perfumes and Distillations.