THE RARE BOOK AND
MANUSCRIPT LIBRARY
OF COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Treasures


5 Omar Khayyam 1050?-1125?
Maqalah fi al-jabr wa-al muqabalah
Arabic manuscript on paper, 56 leaves, Lahore, India, thirteenth century (Smith Or. 45)
Best known in the west as the poet who wrote the Ruba 'iyat, Omar Khayyam was also one of the leading mathematicians of the Islamic world. This manuscript of his "Algebra," written in standard Arabic scientific characters, was probably copied from an original contemporary manuscript; the work begins with basic definitions and makes its principle contribution in the field of cubic equations. Although the "Algebra" was unknown to western mathematicians until the eighteenth century, Omar received wide recognition for it in Islam, and he was called to the court of Sultan Malik Shah I (1054-1092), where he revised astronomical tables and introduced a highly accurate calendar. Among the fifteen works bound in this volume are two by Sharaf al-Din al Tusi (d. ca. 1213/1214), one on the height of vertical objects and the other on the height of the North Pole, and treatises by Alhazen (965-1039) on the astrolable, and by al-Farabi (ca. 870-950) on music, as well as treatises by Archimedes, Apollonius of Perga, and others.
Gift of David Eugene Smith

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