Omar Khayyam

Omar Khayyam

Omar Khayyam was one of the major mathematicians and astronomers of the medieval period. He was acknowledged as the author of the most important treatise on algebra before modern times. This is reflected in his Treatise on Demonstration of Problems of Algebra giving a geometric method for solving cubic equations by intersecting a hyperbola with a circle. His significance as a philosopher and teacher, and his few remaining philosophical works, has not received the same attention as his scientific and poetic writings.

Early life and Career:

Omar Khayyam was born on the 18th of May, 1048 AD in Iran. Omar Khayyam’s full name was Ghiyath al-Din Abu’l-Fath Umar Ibn Ibrahim Al-Nisaburi al-Khayyami. He was born into a family of tent makers. He spent part of his childhood in the town of Balkh, northern Afghanistan, studying under Sheik Muhammad Mansuri. Later on, he studied under Imam Mowaffaq Nishapuri, who was considered one of the greatest teachers of the Khorassan region. Khayyam had notable works in geometry, particularly on the theory of proportions.

He was a Persian polymath, mathematician, philosopher, astronomer, physician, and poet. He wrote treatises on mechanics, geography, and music. The treatise of Khayyam can be considered as the first treatment of parallels axiom which is not based on petition principle but on more intuitive postulate. Khayyam refutes the previous attempts by other Greek and Persian mathematicians to prove the proposition. And he refused the use of motion in geometry.

Khayyam was the mathematician who noticed the importance of a general binomial theorem. The argument supporting the claim that Khayyam had a general binomial theorem is based on his ability to extract roots. Khayyam was part of a panel that introduced several reforms to the Persian calendar. On March 15, 1079, Sultan Malik Shah, accepted this corrected calendar as the official Persian calendar.

Khayyam’s poetic work has eclipsed his fame as a mathematician. He has written about a thousand four-line verses or quatrains. In the English-speaking world, he was introduced through the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam which are rather free-wheeling English translations by Edward FitzGerald (1809-1883). Khayyam’s personal beliefs are discernible from his poetic oeuvre. In his own writings, Khayyam rejects strict religious structure and a literalist conception of the afterlife.
Khayyam taught for decades the philosophy of Avicenna, especially in his home town Nishapur, till his death. Khayyam, the philosopher can be understood from two rather distinct sources. One is through his Rubaiyat and the other through his own works in light of the intellectual and social conditions of his time. The latter could be informed by the evaluations of Khayyam’s works by scholars and philosophers such as Bayhaqi, Nezami Aruzi, and Zamakhshari and Sufi poets and writers Attar Nishapuri and Najmeddin Razi. As a mathematician, Khayyam has made fundamental contributions to the Philosophy of mathematics especially in the context of Persian Mathematics and Persian philosophy with which, most of the other Persian scientists and philosophers such as Avicenna, Biruni, and Tusi are associated.


Omer Khayyam passed away on December the 4th 1131 in Nishapur, Persia now known as Iran.