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History of Algebra

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The invention of algebra from the ancient world has produced many opportunities for the modern world we live in today. According to the Webster’s Dictionary, “algebra by definition is the part of mathematics in which letters and other symbols are used to represent numbers and quantities in formulae and equations.” First and for most, algebra is divided into two different groups, the first group being “classical algebra”, which is solving equations and finding the unknown variable. The second group is “abstract algebra” also called “modern algebra”, which is made up of real numbers, complex numbers, matrices, and vector spaces. In addition, algebra developed through algebraic notation in three different stages: the rhetorical or verbal stage, the syncopated stage, where words are abbreviated, and the stage we are most familiar with, symbolic stage, which are symbols such as minus, division, multiplication sign, parenthesis, brackets, exponents, logarithms, letters for variables, and the list goes on and on. The history of algebra began in Egypt, Babylon, India, and eventually spread throughout the world via the Arabs. The word algebra is an Arabic word al-jabr, meaning the reunion of broken parts. This best describes the method for solving both sides of an equation. Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizimi or Father of Algebra is one of the greatest mathematicians ever known as well as the most influential for writing down the first algebraic calculations in place of the abacus; which is a mechanical device that used beads or balls that moved on a rod for calculations. One of al-Khwarizimi’s books, al-Kitab al mukhtasar fi Hisab al jabr w’al muqabala, shows how to solve basic equations and then moves in to the business of practical applications. Al-jabr is about removing negative terms from equations and al-muqabala is balancing the values of an equation across an equal sign. Algebra was incredibly important even from its early stages because it created a...

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