part of mathematics in which letters and other symbols are used to represent numbers and quantities in formulae and equation
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- Algebra is the offer made by the devil to the mathematician. The devil says: `I will give you this powerful machine, it will answer any question you like. All you need to do is give me your soul: give up geometry and you will have this marvellous machine.'
- The historical associations of the word algebra almost substantiate the sordid character of the subject. The word comes from the title of a book written by... Al Khawarizmi. In this title, al-jebr w' almuqabala, the word al-jebr meant transposing a quantity from one side of an equation to another and muqabala meant simplification of the resulting expressions. Figuratively, al-jebr meant restoring the balance of an equation... When the Moors reached Spain... algebrista... came to mean a bonesetter... and signs reading Algebrista y Sangrador (bonesetter and bloodletter) were found over Spanish barber shops. Thus it might be said that there is a good historical basis for the fact that the word algebra stirs up disagreeable thoughts.
- Morris Kline, Mathematics and the Physical World (1959), p. 69