**Algebra**

Algebra has its roots in the Middle East where sciences including mathematics and astronomy once flourished in the Islamic world. Muhammad al-Khwarizmi was one of the major mathematicians of his time and the author of a number of influential books. His book on algebra is titled **"Kitab al-jabr wal-muqabala"** which translates to "the book of calculation by completion and reduction." The Arabic word **"al-jabr"** is the origin of the word "algebra" which describes the process of moving terms from one side of an algebraic equation to the other to find the value of an unknown.

** So why **do we use

**x**in Algebra.

Well…from the 11th to 13th centuries, Europe absorbed, learned and rediscovered immense knowledge from Islamic civilization. Islamic textbooks were translated into Spanish, Greek and Latin.

The **Arabic** for “something” (some specific undefined thing) is…

This word is pronounced **‘ shee’**…or

*Al shee*, as it is written above. However the

**sound that is very hard to pronounce in Spanish. Arabic is also a very precise language, and creating an exact translation of Arabic words is difficult. So Spanish scholars, trying to translate from Arabic, decided to use a**

*sh***Greek**letter…

They chose the letter** chi …**pronounced

**Which then became**

*kai.***X**when the texts were translated in

**Latin**…and remained

**X**when translated again into English!