Who Discovered the Quadratic Formula?

When it comes to cracking complex number riddles, equally complex number formula should be used. This is where a quadratic equation comes in. Breakthroughs in advanced science and mathematics became possible through the help of a quadratic equation. Incidentally, who discovered the quadratic formula?

Numbers and Letters

Quadratic formula makes us of not just numbers but also letters in an equation. To solve for an unknown value, letters took its place in the equation. An example of this is the Pythagorean formula. The Babylonians were said to have used a similar equation in their math problems. However, their use of it was only in a partial sense. The Babylonian equation system should have been more complex for some mathematicians to consider that a Babylonian was who discovered the quadratic formula.

Two Indian Mathematicians

Brahmagupta: An Indian mathematician from Brahma-Sphuta-Siddhanta used a complex number and letter algebraic system. Aside from this, he also considered negative numbers in his system, something quite extraordinary in the 7th century. This Indian man of numbers, Brahmagupta, is acknowledged by some as the first man who discovered the quadratic formula as it is recognized and used by modern mathematicians today. However, mathematicians in 19th century Europe missed his work and fame, and this caused some to have second thoughts about Brahmagupta being the first quadratic formula discoverer.

Bhaskara: Another Indian mathematician was fortunate enough to attract the attention of mathematicians in Europe. He was Bhaskara. He used intricate formula with zero-digits in solving algebraic problems. Thus, he was well accepted by mathematicians in Europe, especially around the 12th century. Because of this, many then and now count him as the man who discovered the quadratic equation.

A special feature of his discovery was his use of negative roots. However, he warned his followers about the excessive use of the negative or the less than zero value. According to him, it was awkward to use, especially in business, and thus quite unacceptable.

Unfortunately, because he came to the mathematical scene centuries after Brahmagupta did, Bhaskara was not acceptable to all the men of mathematics as the one who indeed was the first quadratic formula discoverer.

Arabian Mathematics Knight

The kingdom of Arabia produced an able and worthy candidate for the man who discovered the quadratic equation—Al-Khwarizm. He had been using the algebraic system long before Bhaskara did—in 11th century. Moreover, European mathematicians were familiar of his works. That’s double points for him. But not many consider him as the man who discovered the quadratic equation.

Italian Runners Up

Niccolo Fontana Tartaglia of Venice and Girolamo Cardano also did great contributions for the advance of Algebra, specifically the more advanced cubic equation.

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