Some TIME ago a group of mathematicians and computer scientists (including the editors
of this volume) thought of making a scientific pilgrimage to the birthplace of al-Khw&rizmf,
the outstanding ninth-century mathematician who gave his name to the word "algorithm".
As his name indicates, al-Khwarizmi came from the Khorezm oasis, a celebrated center
of civilization that has given mankind a whole constellation of remarkable philosophers,
scientists, and poets. We had learned not only that al-Khwarizmi's famous writings
eventually led to our word algorithm, but that the word "algebra" also stems from the
title of his major work—thereby accounting for both algebra and algorithms, two of the
most important concepts in all of mathematics and computer science. So we felt that a visit
to this site would be a special experience for every mathematician, whether he works on
abstract or concrete questions, whether he studies philosophical foundations or applications
to modern society.
After discussing this idea with a wider circle of scientists, and also consulting with the
Academies of Science in the Soviet Union and in the Uzbek S.S.R., our dreams became a
reality: An international symposium on the theme Algorithms in Modern Mathematics and
Computer Science was held during the week October 16-22, 1979, in the city of Urgench,
the modern center of the Khorezm region in Uzbekistan. The symposium was organized
by the Academy of Sciences of the Uzbek S.S.R., with the support of the Soviet Academy
and its Siberian branch.