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The Arabic Origins and Development of Latin Algorisms in the Twelfth Century

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2008

André Allard
Affiliation:
National Fund for Scientific Research, Universities of Louvain and Namur, Rue Basse 5, B-7904, Tourpes, Belgium

Abstract

In the absence of the Arabic text of al-Khwārizmī's Arithmetic (ca. 825), which has not yet been found, the oldest Latin adaptations from the twelfth century are the only evidence documenting the genesis and the first spreading of a decimal arithmetic that uses nine figures and zero, i.e. the Indian reckoning known in the Middle Ages as algorismus. This paper studies these texts, their content, their sources, and identifies their authors and the milieus in which they were written.

En l'absence du texte arabe de l'Arithmétique d'al-Khwārizmī (ca. 825), jusqu'ici introuvable, les plus anciennes versions latines remaniées du XIe siècle constituent notre seule source de connaissance de la genèse et de la première diffusion d'une arithmétique de position utilisant neuf chiffres et le zéro, le ‘calcul indien’ connu du Moyen Age sous le nom d'algorismus. Le présent article analyse ces textes, leur contenu, leurs sources, et en détermine les auteurs ou les milieux dans lesquels ils furent élaborés.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1991

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