ALGORITHMICS á Íslandi ehf.
Guðrún Baldvina Sævarsdóttir / Bernhard Pangerl, Publishers
Even though his name is now graces a crater on the dark side of the Moon, we would be wrong to believe that he did not live in this world. Quite the reverse. Other than his mother tongue, he mastered Sanskrit, Greek and Hebrew and unfortunately brought back the zero from his research in India; this, as every schoolchild knows, proved to be disastrous, since over time the zero spread over the surface of the globe like the plague.
And all of this because he thought about what people could do with their days, found a language capable of solving the problem and wrote out the results.
“By considering what people generally expected from calculation, I discovered that it was always a number. I also observed that each number is a combination of units and that every possible number can be divided into units. I also discovered that each number between one and ten exceeds the previous number by one unit; then if ten is doubled or tripled in the same way as the previous units: this is how we form twenty, thirty and so on until a hundred: the hundred can then be doubled and tripled in the same way as the units and dozens, until one thousand; and so on, right up to the ultimate limit of numbers.”
These are the words of the scientist Ibn Musa, who carried out this research more than 1200 years ago. He could not know that more than 400 years later, an Italian merchant would bring his son to the Algerian town of Béjaïa to learn calculation. Here the young boy therefore learned calculation with the Novem figurae indorum (‘nine Hindu numerals’), our current numerals (Indo-Arab), returned to Italy and became the nightmare of all schoolchildren when asked the question about rabbits: “A pair of rabbits gives birth to two new rabbits after two months, and a new pair the following month. Their descendants follow suite”
The result of a consideration came to Europe under the name of algebra (calculation). And with it the zero.
This is how we forgot that initially there was a consideration , followed by the analysis of what people generally expect from the calculation, and the description of what they actually do and what they need in order to achieve this, in other words, the result of the analysis.
We cannot therefore confirm that Ibn Musa was a mathematician, unless someone, who decides to consider something, analyses the thing considered and from this analysis is able to describe this thing, can from this fact alone consider him to be a mathematician. There is however conclusive evidence to prove that scientists, philosophers and poets, also consider something, analyse the thing considered and describe the thing from that analysis, each in their own way.
Nevertheless, the European translators of the time were not as detailed as Ibn Musa and treated their translations very generously, if not with inventiveness and innovation. This is how a procedure of general research was presented as a calculation method, which today spreads terror under the name of algebra. And Ibn Musa’s rule of formal action to solve a problem unfurled in the classrooms of Europe under the name of algorithm, when this term was originally only used to refer to the village where Ibn Musa was born.
This led to a new disaster. A few people had the mad idea that the nine Hindu numerals were quite unnecessary and the zero and the one combined with Ibn Musa’s rule of formal action to solve a problem were perfectly capable of explaining the world and preventing its decline. And this is why today we see young people, adults and even children bump into lamp posts, because they are seeking the truth in their smartphones and not on the path on which they are now walking. More than a thousand years ago, men were already telling each other stories about having lost their keys in their dark house and looking for them in the market place because there was more light there.
The fact remains that this publisher has also learned from Ibn Musa what constitutes a rule of formal action to solve a problem. Nonetheless, the publishing house ALGORITHMICS á Íslandi refuses to claim that the world can be explained by zeros and ones. Everyone knows that one means ‘the current is flowing’ and two ‘the current is not flowing,’ and nothing more. And what happens if no current flows? Well, even the poem ‘Heimspeki’ by Þorsteinn Valdimarsson would disappear from the Here and Now.
However, the goal of a publisher is also to give others the chance to learn, consequently a flowing or un-flowing current should be of scant importance. A publisher achieves this objective through books. It is for this reason that here we only find writings that are much too short for a book, and which would therefore have remained unknown.
And this is a rule of formal action to resolve a problem, an ‘algorithm’.
Translation: Jackie Dobble