Ric Michael P. De Vera
Mr. Norie Sabayan
A and B
Arabic mathematics: forgotten brilliance?
Indian mathematics reached Baghdād, a major early center of Islam, about ad 800. Supported by the ruling caliphs and wealthy individuals, translators in Baghdād produced Arabic versions of Greek and Indian mathematical works. The need for translations was stimulated by mathematical research in the Islamic world. Islamic mathematics also served religion in that it proved useful in dividing inheritances according to Islamic law; in predicting the time of the new moon, when the next month began; and in determining the direction to Mecca for the orientation of mosques and of daily prayers, which were delivered facing Mecca. Recent research paints a new picture of the debt that we owe to Arabic/Islamic mathematics. Certainly many of the ideas which were previously thought to have been brilliant new conceptions due to European mathematicians of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are now known to have been developed by Arabic/Islamic mathematicians around four centuries earlier. In many respects the mathematics studied today is far closer in style to that of the Arabic/Islamic contribution than to that of the Greeks. There is a widely held view that, after a brilliant period for mathematics when the Greeks laid the foundations for modern mathematics, there was a period of stagnation before the Europeans took over where the Greeks left off at the beginning of the sixteenth century. The common perception of the period of 1000 years or so between the ancient Greeks and the European Renaissance is that little happened in the world of mathematics except that some Arabic translations of Greek texts were made which preserved the Greek learning so that it was available to the Europeans at the beginning of the sixteenth century. That...