Concept

# History of algebra

Résumé
Algebra can essentially be considered as doing computations similar to those of arithmetic but with non-numerical mathematical objects. However, until the 19th century, algebra consisted essentially of the theory of equations. For example, the fundamental theorem of algebra belongs to the theory of equations and is not, nowadays, considered as belonging to algebra (in fact, every proof must use the completeness of the real numbers, which is not an algebraic property). This article describes the history of the theory of equations, called here "algebra", from the origins to the emergence of algebra as a separate area of mathematics. The word "algebra" is derived from the Arabic word الجبر al-jabr, and this comes from the treatise written in the year 830 by the medieval Persian mathematician, Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, whose Arabic title, Kitāb al-muḫtaṣar fī ḥisāb al-ğabr wa-l-muqābala, can be translated as The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing. The treatise provided for the systematic solution of linear and quadratic equations. According to one history, "[i]t is not certain just what the terms al-jabr and muqabalah mean, but the usual interpretation is similar to that implied in the previous translation. The word 'al-jabr' presumably meant something like 'restoration' or 'completion' and seems to refer to the transposition of subtracted terms to the other side of an equation; the word 'muqabalah' is said to refer to 'reduction' or 'balancing'—that is, the cancellation of like terms on opposite sides of the equation. Arabic influence in Spain long after the time of al-Khwarizmi is found in Don Quixote, where the word 'algebrista' is used for a bone-setter, that is, a 'restorer'." The term is used by al-Khwarizmi to describe the operations that he introduced, "reduction" and "balancing", referring to the transposition of subtracted terms to the other side of an equation, that is, the cancellation of like terms on opposite sides of the equation.
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