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In discussing the Arabic creation of algebra, Saliba noted that it was originally invented to determine distribution of property under Islam's complicated inheritance traditions. Its use, however, was soon recognized in a multitude of other fields, and the words algebra and algorithm both have their linguistic roots in Arabic.
Moreover, the creation of Arabic numerals significantly improved upon Greek and Roman number systems because it simplified addition and finally allowed for the decimal evaluation of fractions, Saliba said.
The influence of the new system, which eventually became standard in the Western world, is evident in the Western tradition of adding right-to-left (from the ones place, to the tens, to the hundreds).
Arabic scholars also expressed doubts about the theories of Galen, the famous Greek medical scholar, and modern medicine eventually proved them right, Saliba said.