The Word Algorithm Originates in 9th Century Baghdad

The word algorithm comes from the name of a Persian mathematical genius, al-Khwarizmi, who dealt with mathematical sorcery in the 9th century. Although he did not invent algorithms in their contemporary sense i.e a finite sequence of rigorous instructions, he did inspire the Western world to use Arabic numerals instead of the clumsy Roman system. And he can be thanked for the word algebra. 

It is when his works were translated into Latin and Italian that his name transformed into Algoritmi. And then his name entered the mainstream when it started to mean arithmetic in English.

It is striking to think that some people’s names became the semantic representation of an essential concept of science and technology. How often did that happen? —

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *