Origins of Algebra – Where did Algebra come From?


In the beginning

The origins of algebra date all the way back to the Babylonians. They developed a system that allowed them to produce calculations in an algebraic fashion. Through this system they were able to solve many problems with linear equations, quadratic equations, and intermediate equations. This was in high contrast to the geometric problem solving that was practiced throughout the rest of the world at the time.

The meaning of the word Algebra

The name comes from the title of a book by a widely known Arabic mathematician and astronomer. The book was titled “al-jabr” which simply translates to “reunion” in today’s grammar. This book was the first resource available to describe the new found methods of problem solving.

Father of Algebra

It is widely known that Diophantus is the “father of algebra.” His work in the field during his life proved that the field was possible and true. He solved many of the problems that were once thought to be impossible to solve with geometric methods. He gave validity and meaning to the study and made it more widely used throughout the world. Lately his title has been in jeopardy, as many people claim that the author of the book “al-jabr,” Muhammad ibn Musa al-khwarizmi, deserves this prestigious title. He was, they believe, the first person to label many of the practices and theories. This debate has lingered for years and will probably never be solved.


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