Omar Khayyam’s 971th birthday: Why this Persian mathematician was special?

Omar Khayyam’s 971th birthday is being celebrated by Google on May 18 with a special, creative doodle. This is one of those rare times that Google has repeated a doodle.

In 2012 as well, Omar’s 964th birthday was celebrated by Google with a special doodle which was very well received by users.

Omar Khayyam was a Persian mathematician, but he was also a well-known astronomer, and poet. He was born in Nishapur, in northeastern Iran, and spent most of his life near the court of the Karakhanid and Seljuq rulers in the period which witnessed the First Crusade.

He is also credited with introducing the Jalali calendar. Jalali Calendar is a Solar Calendar, also called Jalali Sanvat or Seljuk Samvat. This calendars became the base of the rest of the calendar. This Jalali Calendar is still used in Iran and Afghanistan.

As a mathematician, Omar Khayyam is very well-known for his work on the classification and solution of cubic equations, where he provided geometric solutions by the intersection of conics.

Omar Khayyam was first to give a general method for solving cubic equations. Although he didn’t consider negative roots, his methods are sufficient to find geometrically all real (positive or negative) roots of cubic equations.

Apart from Philosopher and mathematician, he also contributed greatly to the literature. He wrote many poems and rubaiyats, which are still very much liked today. The book ‘Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam is well-known’, translated by Edward Fitzgerald.