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This type of algebra goes back to the Babylonians. Rhetorical algebra
was all oral. There were **no** **symbols** to use and writing materials
may or may not have existed in different cultures. This does not mean that
"easy" problems were the only ones described. Keep in mind that
writing materials and symbols do not add intelligence or problem solving
ability to people. Though arithmetic began for practical reasons, an art
developed to cultivate the science. Naturally, consideration of the abstract
began to develop. People began studing mathematics for the sake of mathematics,
not out of necessity. This is how algebra ultimately evolved from arithmetic.
But, the people of this time period were limited in their ability to write
and the materials to write on. Some of the easiest obtainable material was
clay tablets, which had to be just the right consistency at that moment
to allow an impression to be made with some sort of stylus, then baked in
the sun to hold that shape. And they simply wrote out exactly what they
said. They did not have symbols or abbreviations. They didn't know what
+, -, *, or = meant!

**276 B.C. - 197 B.C. -- Eratosthenes
of Cyrene**

He is noted for a device known as the **sieve**,
used for finding all **prime
numbers** less than a given number *n*.

The Arabs were the first to recognize irrational roots of quadratic equation. They also saw the existence of two solutions of a quadratic equation (Euclid did not).

They introduced the rule of false position to European scholars.

**790 - 850 -- Al-Khowarizmi
1048 - 1122 -- Omar
Khayyam**

He was a great poet of his day, author of the exquisite ** Rubaiyat**.
He found a geometric solution of cubic equations.

Go to timeline of symbolic algebra