Omar khayyam biography


In the year 1072 AD, Omar Khayyam documented the most accurate year length ever calculated – a figure still accurate enough for most purposes in the modern world. Khayyam was an astronomer, astrologer, physician, philosopher, and mathematician: he made outstanding contributions in algebra. His poetry is better known in the West than any other non-Western poet.

The man himself remains something of an enigma. Different biographers have documented him as a fun-loving, wine-drinking agnostic; a closet Zoroastrian; a Sufi Muslim; an orthodox Sunni Moslem; and a follower of Ancient Greek philosophy. All agree that he was an outstanding intellectual.

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Omar Khayyam was born on May 18, 1048 in the great trading đô thị of Nishapur in northern Persia. Today the thành phố is in Iran. Omar’s father was Ebrahim Khayyami, a wealthy physician. Omar’s mother’s name is not known. Some authors have written that Omar’s father earned a living making tents because Khayyami means tent-maker. However, although many English-speakers are named Smith, it does not mean their fathers spent their days hammering hot metal on an anvil.

Omar’s family were Muslims. His father seems lớn have been relaxed about religion, employing a mathematician by the name of Bahmanyar bin Marzban, a devotee of the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism, khổng lồ tutor Omar. Bahmanyar had been a student of the great physician, scientist, and philosopher Avicenna, and he gave Omar a thorough education in science, philosophy, & mathematics. Khawjah al-Anbari taught Omar astronomy, guiding him through Ptolemy’s Almagest.

In his early teens Omar worked in his father’s surgery learning about medicine.

Omar Khayyam celebrated his eighteenth birthday in 1066. In the same year, Halley’s comet appeared in the heavens, William the Conqueror’s Norman Army invaded England, & Omar’s father Ebrahim died. A few months after Ebrahim’s death, Omar’s tutor Bahmanyar also died.

It was the over of an era in Omar Khayyam’s life. It was time khổng lồ put his family’s affairs in order và move on.


Omar Khayyam joined one of the regular caravans making a three month journey from Nishapur lớn the great city of Samarkand, which is now in Uzbekistan. Samarkand was a center of scholarship, & Khayyam arrived there probably in 1068, aged 20.

In Samarkand he made liên hệ with his father’s old friend Abu Tahir, who was governor and chief judge of the city. Tahir, observing Khayyam’s extraordinary talent with numbers, gave him a job in his office. Soon Khayyam was given a job in the king’s treasury.

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While living in Samarkand, Khayyam made a major advance in algebra.

Omar Khayyam’s Contributions khổng lồ Science


At high school we learn about equations of the size ax2 + bx + c = 0; these are called quadratic equations. Cubic equations are of the size ax3 + bx2 + cx + d = 0. Naturally, cubic equations are harder to lớn solve than quadratics.

Khayyam conjectured correctly that it is not possible lớn solve cubic equations using the traditional Ancient Greek geometrical tools of straightedge & compass. Other methods are required.

At the age of 22, in 1070, Khayyam published one of his greatest works: Treatise on Demonstration of Problems of Algebra và Balancing. In it he showed that a cubic equation can have more than one solution. He also showed how the intersections of conic sections such as parabolas và circles can be utilized khổng lồ yield geometric solutions of cubic equations. Archimedes had actually started work in this field over a thousand years earlier, when he considered the specific problem of finding the ratio of the volume of one part of a sphere khổng lồ another. Khayyam considered the problem in a more general, methodical way.


He then refutes the possibility that angles C and/or D can be anything other than right-angles & in the image above only the central option is possible. So, he believes he has proven the parallel postulate. In fact, he has not done so, all he has done is stated it in a different way.

What is interesting to lớn historians of mathematics is that in Khayyam’s ideas – shown roughly in the images above – they can see the first glimmers of non-Euclidean geometry.

Some Personal Details và the End

Full details of Khayyam’s personal life are not known. He is believed lớn have married & had at least one son and one daughter.

In 1092, Malik Shah and his vizier both died – the first probably by poisoning, the second by assassination. Khayyam went into hiding during the resulting power nguồn struggle. His survival depended on lying low. He had been Malik Shah’s personal physician và become his close personal friend – which had made him enemies – and Khayyam’s poetry suggests his behavior may not have been devoutly religious – & this had also made him enemies. Khayyam actually published no poetry in his lifetime. Some of his musings would potentially have endangered his life.

After the nguồn struggle, it took about trăng tròn years for Khayyam to be fully rehabilitated and for him to lớn emerge again, at 64 years of age, in the company of powerful people. However, he refused khổng lồ teach. One of his poems suggests why this might be:

The secrets which my book of love has bred,Cannot be told for fear of loss of head;Since none is fit to learn, or cares lớn know,Tis better all my thoughts remain unsaid.

Omar Khayyam died at the age of 83 in his hometown of Nishapur on December 4, 1131. He was buried in a tomb whose location he had chosen in an orchard where blossom would fall twice a year.

Khayyam’s poetry was popularized in the 1800s by Edward FitzGerald’s translations in the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Khayyam became so admired in the West that in 1963 the Shah of Iran had his grave exhumed & Khayyam’s remains moved lớn a huge purpose-built mausoleum in Nishapur where tourists could pay homage lớn the great poet.

We shall kết thúc with one of Khayyam’s most famous và evocative quatrains:

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and ThouBeside me singing in the Wilderness—And Wilderness is Paradise enow.”

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Further ReadingEdward FitzGerald (translator)The Rubaiyat of Omar KhayyamHoward Willford Bell, 1901

Victor J. KatzA History of Mathematics: An IntroductionHarperCollins College Publishers, New York, 1993

Roshdi Rashed (Editor)Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic scienceRoutledge, 1996

History of Astronomy — Middle, 2003

Hazhir TeimourianOmar Khayyam: Poet, Rebel, AstronomerThe History Press, 2008

Mehdi AminrazaviThe Wine of Wisdom: The Life, Poetry và Philosophy of Omar KhayyamOneworld Publications, 2013