(780 – 850 AD)
Europe colonized and civilized much of the world. But long before then, this Persian scholar single-handedly civilized Europeans with his superior mathematics. He was the mastermind who improved horary quadrants, refined trigonometric tables, and introduced the Hindu decimal system to Europe. His brilliance and influence were such that the word “algorithm” was derived from his surname: Al-Khwarizmi. And after Europeans were awestruck by his publication whose title was shortened to Al Jabr, (but in full is Al-Kitab Al-Mukhtasar Fi Hisab Al-Jabr Wa’l-Muqabala), the term Algebra was devised for that branch of mathematics. Till today, Muhammad Al-Khwarizmi is acknowledged by many as the “Father of Modern Algebra”. He is also fondly appreciated as one of the pioneers of modern science during the Islamic Golden Age (which is Middle East’s equivalent of the Renaissance). As an inspirational teacher and writer, his efforts (more than anyone else’s) helped in advancing the mathematical knowledge of medieval Europe. It was Al-Khwarizmi’s works which honed the mathematical skills of Abu-Kamil Ibn-Aslam Shuja: the first person who employed irrational numbers as coefficients and solutions to equations. Abu-Kamil would in turn influence Leonardo Fibonacci, who gained fame in Europe by introducing and popularizing the Asian math methods, which Al-Khwarizmi had advanced and preserved. Due to his enormous reputation as a mathematician, Al-Khwarizmi’s contributions to astronomy, geography and other fields are often overshadowed by the ones he made to mathematics. The lunar impact crater, Al-Khwarizmi, is named after him: in addition to numerous concepts, awards and research centers.