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Abu, Kamil Shuja  

Ness Creighton

Egyptian Muslim mathematician, also known as al-Hasib al-Misri, the Egyptian Calculator (or Reckoner). His full name was Abu Kamil Shujaʿ ibn Aslam ibn Muhammad ibn Shuja. Very few biographical details are known concerning Abu Kamil, but his productive peak appears to have been at the end of the ninth century. The year of his birth and the year of his death are known with a decent degree of certainty as he is known to have died before al-Imrani (who died in 955) but to have lived well beyond al-Khwarizmi (who died in 850). A direct successor in the development of algebra to al-Khwarizmi, his texts on algebraic theory helped to form the groundwork for later mathematicians, including al-Karaji. Fibonacci would later adopt his mathematical techniques.

Abu Kamil worked to perfect many of al Khwarizmi s algebraic methods including work with the multiplication and division of algebraic objects and the addition ...


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 ...


Eratosthenes of Cyrene  

Duane W. Roller

Greek polymath most noted for his calculation of the circumference of the earth and his invention of the discipline of geography, was born in Cyrene in modern Libya, an outpost of Greek culture; he was exposed early to exotic contacts at the end of the Greek world. Nothing is known about his youth, but by the 260s BCE he was studying in Athens, primarily with the founder of Stoicism, Zeno of Citium, and Arcesilaus of Pitane, the director of the Academy. He was also a close associate of the mathematician Archimedes, who dedicated at least one work to him. Eratosthenes was thus trained in the wide variety of thought that Hellenistic Athens offered, and his early writings demonstrate his ability in philosophy, philology, and mathematics. But there are few details about the nearly twenty years that he spent in the city.

In 246 BCE the new Ptolemaic king Ptolemy III ...



Carmen De Michele

ancient Hellenistic mathematician, also known as Euclid of Alexandria, is considered the “father of geometry.” He is one of the most prominent mathematicians of Greco-Roman antiquity; his best known work is his treatise on geometry, the Elements.

Little is known about Euclid s life His date and place of birth as well as the circumstances of his death are unknown so that they can only be estimated by looking at contemporaries named in references The only reliable source is Proclus s 410 485 CE summary of the history of Greek mathematicians written centuries later Euclid was probably one of Plato s students at his Academy in Athens where he studied mathematics Euclid moved to Alexandria the largest city in the ancient world and taught mathematics at the Library of Alexandria under the reign of Ptolemy I Soter A questionable anecdote describes how when Ptolemy I asked the mathematician if ...



Stephen Cory

, famous mathematician born in Pisa, spent much of his youth in Algeria where his father, Guilieimo Bonaccio, served as a representative for Italian merchants engaged in the leather trade. Fibonacci is often known as Leonardo of Pisa. Leonardo was one of the first mathematicians to introduce the Arabic (Hindu) numeral system into Europe. He also brought the concepts of the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid into European use, having encountered an Arabic translation of Euclid’s Elements in North Africa. Fibonacci is best known for introducing a number series that is named after him (the Fibonacci sequence) and whose ratios closely approximate the “golden ratio,” or 1.618034, which reproduces a geometric symmetry often found in nature. His work was noticed by the king of Sicily, Frederick II, who also served as the Holy Roman Emperor from 1215 As a result Leonardo conducted his research and published his texts with royal ...


Fuller, Thomas  

William F. Mugleston

calculator, was born in West Africa. Nothing is known of his parents or other relatives. At the age of fourteen he was brought as a slave to colonial America and apparently lived the remainder of his life in Virginia. In his old age he was owned by Elizabeth Coxe of Alexandria.

Fuller led the typical life of a slave and never learned to read or write, but he was widely noted late in his life for his extraordinary ability to perform rapid and complicated mathematical calculations in his head. He was often visited by travelers wanting to witness his skill. One of them was Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia the noted physician and educator Rush quizzed him and verified the accuracy of his answers Among other feats Fuller could multiply nine figures by nine give the number of seconds in a year calculate how many seconds anyone had lived ...


Hero, of Alexandria  

Georgia L. Irby-Massie

Greek polymath who worked in mathematics, astronomy, and mechanics. He is especially famous for descriptions of automata (air-, water-, and steam-powered mechanical devices) and steam-powered aeolipiles. “Hero’s engine,” deriving from Ctesibius of Alexandria’s design (290250 bce), is the first device to transform steam into rotary motion. The aeolipile consists of a hollow sphere attached by pipes to an enclosed water-filled cauldron. When the cauldron is heated, the sphere spins on a pivot as it releases steam (Pneumatics 50).

Hero’s much disputed floruit was pinpointed by Neugebauer (1975, 846), who noted that Hero used eyewitness evidence of a lunar eclipse of 62 ce, visible from both Rome and Alexandria, to calculate the distance between those two cities (Dioptra 35). Making no use of Ptolemy of Alexandria (127after 146 ce Hero likely predated Ptolemy Neugebauer Very little is known of Hero s life His mathematical corpus ...



Michael A. B. Deakin

Alexandrian astronomer, mathematician, and philosopher, was the first woman mathematician of whose life and work we have reasonably detailed and secure knowledge. She was active as a public figure, taking a leading part in the civic affairs of Alexandria and also delivering popular lectures on philosophy: a Neoplatonist philosophy heavily influenced by mathematics. She also taught students the intricacies of technical mathematics and astronomy. Her public profile alone was probably distinguished enough to earn her a place in history, but this has been cemented by the lurid nature of her death. She died in 415, murdered by a crowd of Christian zealots who seized her, stripped her, and proceeded to dismember her and to burn her mangled corpse. Undoubtedly this further circumstance has served to keep her name alive.

Hypatia was the daughter of the mathematician Theon and taught both mathematics and philosophy in the then Greek city of Alexandria ...


Llull, Ramon  

Allen J. Fromherz

known in Latin as Raimundus Lullus, Ramon Llull was a Catalan intellectual, translator, doctor, mathematician, theologian, and missionary born in 1232 or 1233 in Palma, the capital of the island of Majorca in the western Mediterranean south of Barcelona. The Catalans had almost suddenly become masters of the western Mediterranean, and the conquest of Majorca by King James I from the Berber North African Almohad Empire in 1229 three years before his death was still fresh in 1232. Ramon Llull would spend most of his life at a crossroads between the Christian powers of Europe and the Muslim powers of North Africa, absorbing the influence of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian traditions. Having experienced an Augustinian conversion from a life licentiousness to one of spiritual contemplation, the first decades of his life from a biography, Vita coaetanea are described as given to ...


Marrakushi, Ibn al-Bannaʾ al-  

Justin Stearns

Moroccan mathematician, was born in the Ibn Nahid quarter of Marrakesh on 30 December 1256, at the tail end of the Almohad dynasty’s (1121–1269) rule over North Africa. Little is known regarding his childhood, save that, as suggested by his name—“Son of the Builder”—his father was involved in construction and he himself came from humble origins. Unlike many of his scholarly contemporaries, who traveled in order to study with teachers in other parts of the Islamic world, Ibn al-Bannaʾ, perhaps in part due to his lack of interest in studying Prophetic tradition, seems never to have left Morocco, and indeed, with the exception of some trips to Fez, remained for most of his life in Marrakesh. While Ibn al-Bannaʾ studied a wide variety of religious and secular sciences, he achieved fame due to his work in the fields of mathematics and astronomy.

Ibn al Bannaʾ was educated in and ...


Pappus of Alexandria  

Michael A. B. Deakin

mathematician, astronomer, and geographer, was the principal figure of the “silver age” of ancient Greek mathematics. Little is known of his life; what the sources tell us is contradictory and unreliable. The little we do know reliably is gleaned rather from what survives of his writing. His principal work, at least in what has survived, is the Synagoge or Collection, and even this has not reached us in its entirety. It is described as having comprised eight books, of which the first and part of the second are missing. The only other work of his that survives in the original Greek (and that only in part) is a commentary on Ptolemy’s Almagest. Beyond these are works in other languages that are thought to be translations of originals by him. An Arabic commentary on Book X of Euclid’s Elements may be a translation of a work he is ...



Michael A. B. Deakin

Alexandrian astronomer and mathematician was the leading mathematician of his era and the last attested member of the famed Alexandrian Museum The mid to late fourth century of the Common Era was not a time conducive to mathematics Indeed Constantius a Roman Emperor of the day promulgated a law to the effect that no one may consult a soothsayer or a mathematician The word soothsayer is the key mathematicians were bundled together with numerologists and other such charlatans Small wonder that the great mathematical achievements of earlier researchers like Archimedes were no longer being actively pursued or extended The research agenda of Archimedes and the great works of synthesis such as Euclid s could scarcely be expected to flourish in such a climate of opinion Contemporaneous with this shift of opinion was a rising tide of militancy in Christianity which in particular saw the destruction of the Alexandrian Serapeion and ...