1902 Encyclopedia > Arabia > Arabic Mathematics

Arabia
(Part 56)




(59) Arabic Mathematics

In mathematics the Arabs based themselves on what they had acquired from the Greek and Indian originals; the former gave them geometry, the latter algebra. Satisfied at first with translations of Euclid, Apollonius, and others, they ultimately left their masters behind. They reached in the 10th century the limits of spherical trigonometry, and solved quadratic and even cubic equations. In these studies the astronomers Geber and Ebn-Moosa chiefly distinguished themselves. Optics, too, hydrostatics were investigated by the professors of Baghdad; but no special progress or remarkable discoveries are recorded as having been made in these sciences. In mixed as well as in pure mathematics the leading-strings of the Greek became the fetters of the Arab mind. Their practical application, however, of hydraulic in the construction of wells, water works, reservoirs, sluices, canals, and the like, does them great credit; and of this peculiar skill ample traces, ill maintained by succeeding government, remain in Spain, North Africa, Egypt, Syria, and Mesopotamia.


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