# Ancient Algebra

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Last updated 7 years ago

Discipline:
Math
Subject:
Algebra I
Grade:
7,8,9,10,11,12   Algebra emerged at the end of the 16th century. Until the 19th century algebra consisted of the theory of equations. The fundamental theorem of algebra belongs to the theory of equations and does not belong to algebra.The word "algebra" is derived from the Arabic word Al-Jabr. Algebra did not always make use of the symbolism that is now ubiquitous in mathematics, rather, it went through three distinct stages. 1) Rhetorical algebra, where equations are written in full sentences.2) Syncopated algebra, where some symbolism is used but which does not contain all of the characteristic of symbolic algebra.3)Symbolic algebra, where full symbolism is used.

Ancient Algebra

A portion of a dedication tablet in a rock-cut Vishnu temple in Gwalior built in 876 AD.

The origins of algebra can be traced to the ancient Babylonians, who developed a positional number system that greatly aided them in solving their rhetorical algebraic equations.The Babylonians were not interested in exact solutions but approximations, and so they would commonly use linear interpolation to approximate intermediate values. One of the most famous tablets is the Plimpton 322 tablet, which gives a table of Pythagorean triples and represents some of the most advanced mathematics prior to Greek mathematics.The Babylonians had developed flexible algebraic operations with which they were able to add equals to equals and multiply both sides of an equation by like quantities so as to eliminate fractions and factors.

The Plimpton 322 tablet.

Photos Courtesy: Bill Casselman, and Wikipedia, and RapidTables.comVideo Courtesy: Ciaran CassidyInfo Courtesy: Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_algebra

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