*Macmillan Science Library: Mathematics*. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.

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## Algebra

Algebra is a branch of mathematics that uses **variables** to solve equations. When solving an algebraic problem, at least one variable will be unknown. Using the numbers and expressions that are given, the unknown variable(s) can be determined.

## Early Algebra

The history of algebra began in ancient Egypt and Babylon. The Rhind Papyrus, which dates to 1650 B.C.E., provides insight into the types of problems being solved at that time.

The Babylonians are credited with solving the first **quadratic equation**. Clay tablets that date to between 1800 and 1600 B.C.E. have been found that show evidence of a procedure similar to the quadratic equation. The Babylonians were also the first people to solve indeterminate equations, in which more than one variable is unknown.

The Greek mathematician Diophantus continued the tradition of the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians into the common era. Diophantus is considered the "father of...

This section contains 645 words(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page) |