Science: The origin of Algorithm

Thursday, August 1st, 2019 08:53 |
Algorithm image Photo/Courtesy

We use algorithms every day, sometimes without our knowledge and sometimes in the know. How do we use it you ask? Well to best explain it first we must understand the definition.

Algorithm is a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer: and with our phones constantly in our hands, we can say that we use algorithms to shop, call for an Uber and even whether to meet up with friends or not.

The term algorithm actually dates back around 900 years ago from a Persian mathematician Muhammad al-Khwarizmi who was born around AD780 in the region now known as Uzbekistan.

Being a mathematical genius, he was the director at the House of Wisdom which was an intellectual center for scholars in the 9th century Baghdad. His contributions to Mathematics, Geography, Astronomy and Cartography helped shape the field of science as it is today.

Al-Khwarizmi wrote an influential book called, Concerning the Hindu Art of Reckoning which was translated into Latin about 300 years later.

The book introduced Hindu and Arabic numerals to the West which replaced the Roman numbers with the Hindu-Arabic number system which Al- Khwarizmi explained in detail thereby giving us the modern numbers and the decimal point.

When translated to Latin, Al-Khwarizmi’s name became Algoritmi which was modernized to algorithm. We can also thank the mathematician for the term Algebra. In mediaeval Latin, Algorismus simply meant the decimal number system.

His scholarly works revolutionized mathematics in the West as they showed how complex problems could be solved by breaking them down into simpler parts hence the modern-day definition of the term algorithm.

By the 13th century, algoritmi had become an English word and later became the term we refer to it today.

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