The Shimmer of Al-Māridinī in the Explanation of the Treatise by al-Yāsamīn


The 12th-century mathematical poem known as al-Yāsamīnīyya fī ‘ilm al-Jabr (The poem by al-Yāsamīn on calculus) from the name of its author, al-Yāsamīn, is one of the most read and commented upon mathematical texts of its time. Its verses have been extensively copied, both in autonomous form and by incorporation into larger commentaries up to the 20th century. The present manuscript preserves an early 20th-century copy of the 15th-century commentary on the Yāsamīnīyya written by Badr al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Ġazal, best known as Sibṭ al-Māridīnī ("the son of al-Māridīnī’s daughter") from the name of his famous maternal grandfather, himself a mathematician. Sibṭ al-Māridīnī, who was active as muwaqqit (timekeeper) at the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo during the last years of the 15th century, is very likely to have composed the text of his commentary with an educational purpose in mind. The commentary deals with the definition of the elements of algebra known at the time (number, root and sequence); the description of the six canonical equations already identified by al-Ḫwārizmī during the 9th century; and the treatment of the algebraic operations of restoration, comparison, and multiplication and division of monomials. The commentary clarifies and expands upon the content of the verses in the older poem.

Last updated: August 29, 2017