The Greek letter pi (symbolized by p) is defined as the ratio of the circumference of the circle to its diameter. It is considered to be a vital element in the calculations of areas and sizes of several mathematical figures: the circle, the cube, the cone and the sphere, from which infinite practical applications have sprung. As a result, mathematicians in many civilizations (Greek, Chinese, Indian, Arabian and European) have been highly concerned with calculating p as carefully as possible. This article by Professor Moustafa Mawaldi, the Dean of the Institute for the History of Arabic Science in Aleppo, sheds light on the contribution of some mathematicians of the Islamic civilisation in refining the value of pi. The works surveyed are those of Al-Khwarizmi, Al-Biruni, Al-Quhi, and Al-Kashi.
Glimpses in the History of A Great Number: Pi in Arabic Mathematics
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Figure 1. The Tabula Rogeriana, drawn by al-Idrisi for Roger II of Sicily in 1154, one of the most advanced ancient world maps. Modern consolidation, created from the 70 double-page spreads of the original atlas. (Source)
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