Article ID: CBB580625505

ʿAlī Muḥammad Iṣfahānī and the Logarithm of Numbers (2015-2016)

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ʿAlī Muḥammad Iṣfahānī (1215/1800–1293/1876), was one of the famous scientific figures of Qajar period who passed the formative years of his scientific and professional life in Iṣfahān, i.e. before being acquainted with the European sciences through the modern institution of Dār al-Funūn. Several scientific works of Iṣfahānī were written in the style of the ancient mathematical treatises like Miftāḥ al-Ḥisāb by Kāshī or ʿ Uyūn al-Ḥisāb by Muḥammad Bāghir Yazdī, whereas his other works seem to have been written in the style of the pedagogic books of Dār al-Funūn. The historians have mentioned some titles among Iṣfahānī’s works which unfortunately are not available today and therefore the attribution of some innovations to Iṣfahānī remains ambiguous. One of the innovations attributed to Iṣfahānī is the discovery of the extracting the logarithm of the numbers. This attribution is repeated in some historical Persian sources such as The Diffused Articles by Abu al-Ḥasan Furūghī, The Algebra of Khayyām by Gholamhossein Mosaheb, The History of Islamic Sciences by Jalal al-Din Homaee, etc. Nevertheless, the historian of mathematics, Abu al-Ghasim Ghorbani, believes that the attribution of discovery of the logarithm to Iṣfahānī could not be more than a legend, though after examining some historical facts, Abd al-Hossein Moshafi shows that this attribution is not far from reality. In this article, after introducing this mathematician and mentioning the previous debates about the subject, I will try to shed some light on these ambiguities with the help of the extant documents

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Authors & Contributors
Zahra Pournajaf
Mohammad Soleimani Tabar
Seyed Amir Sadat Moosavi
Masoud Tareh
Erfan Khosravi
Savadi, Fatemeh
Journals
Tarikh-e Elm (The Iranian Journal for the History of Science)
Historia Mathematica
British Society for the History of Mathematics Bulletin
Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften
International Journal of Middle East Studies
Publishers
Princeton University Press
Oxford University Press
Concepts
Mathematics
Arab/Islamic world, civilization and culture
Logarithms
Cross-cultural interaction; cultural influence
Mathematicians
Evolution
People
al-Kāshī, Jamshīd Ibn Maḥmūd Ghyāth al-Dīn
Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī, Abū 'Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn 'Umar
Abū Torāb Naṭanzī
Spence, William
Napier, John
Napier, James Robert
Time Periods
19th century
Qajar dynasty, Iran (1794-1925)
18th century
17th century
20th century, early
Modern
Places
Iran
Scotland
Egypt
India
Institutions
Dār al-Funūn (Tehran, Iran)
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