**By Nick Catenacci and Melody Torres**

**Influence of Greek and Indian Mathematics on Muslim Scholars**

Greek and Indian Mathematics

Change Over Time of the Spread of Knowledge

Many books were written by the Greeks and the Indians, laying down basic rules, theorems, and so forth that would prove to be the foundations of Muslim mathematical rules. Among these Greek and Indian mathematical works is the Greek Euclid's "Elements," and--while not a book, it is equally important--is the astrolabe. Originally Greek, it relied on astronomy and mathematics so that a sailor could determine his position while in transit. Muslims scholars adopted this invention, and even made it more mathematically accurate, adding circles indicating azimuths, allowing for more accurate locations to be estimated, and for the Muslims to still be able to pray in the direction of Mecca while in transit.

Islamic scholars, who possessed a passion of gaining knowledge, imported books from Greece and India, whose subjects covered a wide variety of subjects, including astronomy and, especially, mathematics. To house these manuscripts, the Muslims created the House of Wisdom, which housed many Greek and Sanskrit manuscripts, including mathematical books. Here, the works were translated into Arabic, and as Muslims learned more and more from these works, their mathematics took on a very Greek approach, such as Euclid's style of forming and proving. This collection of Greek and Indian mathematical works is a huge source of the influence that Greek and Indian mathematics had on Muslim scholars--especially in the conceptualization of new forms of mathematics.

Collecting the Knowledge

The formation of Arabic mathematics from Greek and Indian mathematical ideas created and led to many fundamental laws of modern-day mathematics. For example:

Abu Ja'far ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi wrote a book called "Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing" on arithmetic. This work used Hindu-Arabic numerals. This book introduced many fundamental mathematical terms, such as algorism--the process of computing with Hindu-Arabic numbers, which led to the modern term "Algorithm"--and probably one of the most essential fields of mathematics: al jabr, translated today as Algebra.

Formation of Knowledge

In his book, "Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing" the famed Arabic mathematician Al-Khwarizmi, using an algorithm of Hindu-Arabic numerals, first introduced the concept of "Al Jabr," or as we know it today, Algebra. While it is taken for granted today, this specific field of mathematics led to further advancements in mathematics, such as later developments in Calculus. In Al-Khwarizmi's book, there was introduced a math in which one could mathematically find "variables" in equations--up to five. In modern day schools, this forms the very basis of high school and college mathematics education. So, while as indirect as it is, Greek and Indian mathematics, through its influence on Muslim scholars, caused the development of what is probably the most essential mathematics field known to the modern world

Al Jabr, A.K.A. Algebra

Greek and Indian mathematics affected Muslim scholars all over the Islamic Empire, revolutionizing how scholars then--and now--look at mathematics. This influence was amplified through the use of the trading routes throughout Afro-Eurasia, specifically the Silk Roads. Through this was this new type of mathematics allowed to spread to and from scholars of all nationalities. While originally mostly confined to Greece and India, and later the Islamic Empire, the new type of mathematics later spread all throughout Afro-Eurasia by way of the Silk Roads; since the Silk Roads was mainly composed of indirect trade--meaning that the countries/regions on the far sides of it rarely, if ever, came into direct contact--and that trade between many nations required the goods and ideas to pass through many stations and areas, this new hybrid of mathematics spread quickly to many areas and nationalities of people.

The Influence of Knowledge

As well as influencing the creation of Algebra, Indian mathematics also influenced Arabic numerals, especially the most crucial number in the Arabic--and even the modern--number system: zero. The ancient Greeks, while they excelled in mathematics, did not include the value zero in their number system, while the Indians did, and through Indian influence, so did the Muslims. The value zero, adopted from the Indians, allowed them to make much more precise calculations than the Greeks.

Euclid's "Elements"

Ninth Century Parchment Manuscript

Astrolabe

Manuscript of the "Compendious Book on Calculation by Completing and Balancing