(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 facilitated the introduction of Hindu decimal system to Europe. His brilliance and influence were such that “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. Muhammad Al-Khwarizmi is acknowledged by many as the “Father of Modern Algebra”. He is also appreciated as one of the top scientific pioneers during the Islamic Golden Age: a half-millennium enlightenment period that preceded Europe’s Renaissance. As an inspirational author and mentor, his efforts (more than anyone else’s) helped in advancing the math knowledge of medieval Europe. It was Al-Khwarizmi’s works which honed the math 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 translated, improved and preserved. Due to his resplendent reputation as a mathematician, Al-Khwarizmi’s contributions to mathematics often overshadow the ones he made to astronomy, geography and other sciences. Both the 11156 Al-Khwarizmi asteroid and the 56-kilometer-wide Al-Khwarizmi lunar crater are named after him: in addition to numerous concepts, awards and research centers.