He was born in the town of Khwarizm (Kheva), in what is now Uzbekistan. His family moved soon afterward, to a place near Baghdad, where he accomplished most of his work in the period between 813 and 833. He published most of his scientific works in Arabic, the scientific language of his time and place, but his native language was Persian. 'Al-Khwarizmi' is the arabicized form of 'Kawarizmi' (Al- is the definite article in Arabic); 'Khwarizmi' means from Khwarizm.

He developed the concept of the algorithm in mathematics, and the word "algorithm" itself comes from an English corruption of his name, but he also made major contributions to the fields of algebra, trigonometry, astronomy, geography, and cartography. His systematic and logical approach to solving linear and quadratic equations gave shape to the discipline of algebra, a word that is derived from the name of his 830 book on the subject,* Hisab al-jabr w?al-muqabala*.

While his major contributions were the result of original research, he also did much to synthesize the existing knowledge in these fields from Greek, Indian, and other sources, stamping them with his unique mark of logic and rigor. He appropriated the place-marker symbol of zero, which originated in India, and he is also responsible for the use of Arabic numerals in mathematics that forever changed the way the world thinks about numbers.

Al-Khwarizmi systematized and corrected Ptolemy's research in geography, using his own original findings. He supervised the work of 70 geographers to create the first map of the known world. When his work became known in Europe through Latin translations, his influence made an indelible mark on the development of science in the West: His algebra book introduced that discipline to Europe and became the standard mathematical text at European universities until the 16th century. He also wrote on mechanical devices like the clock, astrolabe, and sundial.

Al-Khwarizmi's contributions to the field of mathematics are considered ground-breaking and highly significant to the development of the subject and the auxiliary sciences that rely on mathematics.