Omar Al Khayyam

Omar Al-Khayyam
Ghiyath al-Din Abul Fateh Omar Ibn Ibrahim al-Khayyam was born at Nishapur, the provincial capital of Khurasan around 1044 A.D. (c. 1038 to 1048). Persian mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, physician and poet, he is commonly known as Omar Khayyam. Khayyam means the tent-maker and although generally considered to be Persian, it has also been suggested that he could have belonged to the Khayyami tribe of Arab origin who might have settled in Persia. Little is known about his early life, except for the fact that he was educated at Nishapur and lived there and in Samarqand for most of his life. Although he had the opportunity, he did not wish to be employed at the King's court and chose instead to lead a calm life devoted to the search for knowledge. He travelled to the great centres of learning; Samarqand, Bukhara, Balkh and Isphahan in order to study further and exchange views with the scholars there. While at Samarqand his patron was a dignatory called Abu Tahir. Khayam died at Nishapur in 1123-24.
Algebra would seem to rank first among the fields to which he contributed. He made an attempt to classify most algebraic equations, including the third degree equations which he was able to offer solutions for some.
The Saljuq Sultan, Malikshah Jalal al-Din, called him to the new observatory at Ray around 1074 and assigned him the task of determining a correct solar calendar. This had become necessary in view of the revenue collections and other administrative matters that were to be performed at different times of the year. Khayyam introduced a calendar that was remarkably accurate, and was named as Al-Tarikh-al-Jalali. It had an error of one day in 3770 years and was thus even superior to the Georgian calendar (error of 1 day in 3330 years).
Apart from being a scientist, Khayyam was also a well-known poet. In this capacity, became more popularly known in the Western world when Edward Fitzgerald published an English translation of his Rubaiyat (quatrains) in 1839. This has since become one of the most popular classics of world literature. It should be remembered that it is practically impossible to exactly translate any literary work into another language, particularly poetry, especially when it involves mystical and philosophical messages of deep complexity. Despite this, the popularity of the translation of Rubaiyat would indicate the wealth of his rich thought.
His influence on the development of mathematics in general and analytical geometry, in particular, has been immense. His work remained ahead of others for centuries till the times of Descartes, who applied the same geometrical approach in solving cubics. His fame as a mathematician has been partially eclipsed by his popularity as a poet; nonetheless his contribution as a philosopher and scientist has been of significant value in furthering the frontiers of human knowledge.