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The number system in use in Western countries today is derived from an earlier Arabic sytem and has been in use in the West since about the 10th century. However, the Arabic numerals were also borrowed from their original inventors, the Hindus, in about the 8th century. There is evidence that the system was in use by the Hindus as early as the 3rd century before the common era.

Al-Khwarizmi (ca.800)

A mathematician, librarian and astronomer born in present day Uzbekistan; is thought to be the first person to use the words Al Jabr to describe elements of mathematical thought. The term survives today in English as the word Algebra.

Abu Kamil (ca 900)

The Egyptian mathematician, is seen as the source of most of the basic laws of algebra, the identity properties, and methods for solving for variables.

In the West, Gerard of Cremona is credited for making both Hindu mathematical thought on Algebraic concepts and the Arabic numeral system available to medieval Europeans for the purposes of calculations. Pope Sylvester the Second (ca. 1000), the first Frenchman to become Pope and the inventor of the pendulum clock, is also credited with the introduction of Arabic numerals to the West.