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Algorism is an archaic term which means the process of doing arithmetic using Arabic numerals.


During the middle ages, an algorist was an arithmetician who used algorism, as opposed to an abacist who calculated using an abacus.

By the time of Leonhard Paul Euler, the term had evolved to mean a mathematician who devised algorithms for more complicated operations than those of the classical algorithms.

Also see

Linguistic Note

During the Renaissance, the origin of the word algorism was uncertain.

According to 1997: Donald E. Knuth: The Art of Computer Programming: Volume 1: Fundamental Algorithms, various suggestions were made by linguists, for example:

  • from the Greek algiros (meaning painful) and arithmos (meaning number)
  • deriving from King Algor of Castile (whose actual identity $\mathsf{Pr} \infty \mathsf{fWiki}$ has not been able to establish)

but that eventually it was determined to have derived from the name Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi.