Math in the Media

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Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"How Islam Kickstarted Science," by Keith Devlin. The Guardian, 5 September 2002.

This article provides a brief glimpse at the outstanding achievements ofIslamic cultures to the development of mathematics. "[A]ll present-daymathematicians and scientists are children of Islam," Devlin writes. Hedescribes the enormous influence of the Arabic mathematician Al-Khwarizmi, oneof whose works Devlin calls "essentially an algebra text." In fact, the name"algebra" came from the title of that work. The contribution of Islamicscholars "paved the way for the scientific revolution in the 17th century,"Devlin notes. He also meditates on "the ease with which a handful of fanaticscan hijack not just a plane but an entire cultural heritage and its associatedreligion."

--- Allyn Jackson