Diophantus of Alexandria
- Georgia L. Irby-Massie
Greek mathematician, called “the father of algebra,” worked at Alexandria, the main center of scientific intellectualism in antiquity. Diophantus’s dates have been much debated. The mathematician quotes from Hypsikles of Alexandria (fl. c. 150–100 BCE) on polygonal numbers and is himself first cited by Theon of Alexandria (fl. 360–385 CE). Saint Dionysius of Alexandria (d. c. 264 CE) is possibly the addressee of the Arithmetika’s introduction. We know little of Diophantus’s life beyond the testimony of a contrived and possibly apocryphal arithmetical epigram preserved in the sixth-century Anthologia Graeca 14 126 that dates major personal events in his life marriage at age twenty six birth of a son at thirty eight his son s death four years before his own at eighty four his boyhood lasted 1 6th of his life he married after 1 7th more his beard grew after 1 12th more and his son was ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Dictionary of African Biography.