|Biographical detail : ||Outstanding Iranian poet and mathematician.
Umar al-Khayyam was a man of great talent and scientific enquiry and is believed to have excelled in mathematics, sciences, astronomy and philosophy. As a Mathematician he invented the Jalali Era, which was so accurate that it had an error of only one day in many thousands of years. But poetry was his passion.
In his masterpiece, Rubbaiyats or quatrains, Umar al-Khayyam takes a humorous or perverse pleasure in exalting the gratification of sense above that of the intellect. Some of Umar’s Rubbaiyats warn of the danger of greatness, the instability of fortune, and while advocating charity to all men, recommend the reader to be too intimate with none. Edward Fitzgerald translated Umar’s Rubbaiyats into English in 1859.
Umar Khayyam made major contributions in mathematics, particularly in algebra. His book ‘Maqalat fi al-jabr wa al-Muqabila’ on Algebra provided great advancement in the filed. He classified many algebraic equations on their complexity and recognised thirteen different forms of cubic equation. He developed a geometrical approach to solving equations, which involved an ingenious selection of proper conics. He solved cubic equations by intersecting a parabola with a circle. And he was the first to develop the binomial theorem and determine binomial coefficients.
Umar al-Khayyam’s famous contribution in developing an accurate solar calendar to be used for revenue collections and various administrative matters began at the new observatory at Ray in 1074. His calendar ‘Al-Tarikh-al-Jalali’ is accurate to within one day in 3770 years. Specifically, he measured the length of the year as 365.24219858156 days – thus he recognised the importance of accuracy by giving his result to eleven decimal places.
Umar Khayyam’s contribution to other fields of science included method developed in accurate determination of the specific gravity. He wrote two books in metaphysics – ‘Risala Dar Wujud’ and ‘Nauruz Namah’.
Umar al-Khayyam is loathed and dreaded by the Sufis whose practises he ridiculed and whose faith he found difficult to emulate – he never claimed to be a pious man. He travelled to several reputed institutions of learning, including those of Bukhara, Balkh, Samarqand and Isphahan.
Umar al-Khayyam was born as Ghiyath al-Din Abu’l-Fath Umar Ibn Ibrahim Al-Nisaburi Al-Khayyami in Nishapur, the provincial capital of Khurasan, in Iran formerly known as Persia.