Maths in the Early Islamic World

16 Feb, 2017 510 Mathematics

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the flourishing of maths in the early Islamic world, as thinkers from across the region developed ideas in places such as Baghdad’s House of Wisdom. Among them were the Persians Omar Khayyam, who worked on equations, and Al-Khwarizmi, latinised as Algoritmi and pictured above, who is credited as one of the fathers of algebra, and the Jewish scholar Al-Samawal, who converted to Islam and worked on mathematical induction. As well as the new ideas, there were many advances drawing on Indian, Babylonian and Greek work and, thanks to the recording or reworking by mathematicians in the Islamic world, that broad range of earlier maths was passed on to western Europe for further study.

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  • Colva Roney-Dougal 11 episodes
    Reader in Pure Mathematics at the University of St Andrews
  • Peter Pormann 3 episodes
    Professor of Classics & Graeco-Arabic Studies at the University of Manchester
  • Jim Al-Khalili 8 episodes
    Professor of Physics at the University of Surrey

Reading list

  • Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science
    Jim Al-Khalili (Penguin, 2012) Google Books →
  • The Algebra of Muhammad ibn Musa
    Muhammad b. Musa al-Khwarizmi (trans. F. Rosen) (Oriental Translation Fund, 1831)
  • Episodes in the Mathematics of Medieval Islam
    J. L. Berggren (Springer, 2013) Google Books →
  • The Emergence of Number
    J. N. Crossley (World Scientific, 1987) Google Books →
  • Greek Thought, Arabic Culture
    Dimitri Gutas (Routledge, 1998) Google Books →
  • The Crest of the Peacock: Non-European Roots of Mathematics
    George Gheverghese Joseph (Princeton University Press, 2010) Google Books →
  • A History of Mathematics: An Introduction
    Victor J. Katz (Pearson, 1998) Google Books →
  • The Exact Sciences in Antiquity
    Otto Neugebauer (Brown University Press, 1957) Google Books →
  • The Development of Arabic Mathematics: Between Arithmetic and Algebra
    Roshdi Rashed (Springer, 1994) Google Books →
  • Al Khwarizmi: The Beginnings of Algebra
    Roshdi Rashed (Saqi Books, 2009)
  • Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance
    George Saliba (MIT Press, 2007) Google Books →

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Auto-category: 510.1 (Mathematics in the Islamic world)