About the database

The ISMI database provides a means to access Islamicate authors, their works, and extant manuscript witnesses in the various fields of the mathematical sciences. These fields include the “pure” mathematical sciences (such as geometry, arithmetic, algebra, and trigonometry) as well as the “mixed” mathematical sciences (such as astronomy, optics, music, and mechanics). It is thus an online successor to Heinrich Suter’s Beiträge zur Geschichte der Mathematik und Astronomie im Islam and G. P. Matvievskaya and B. A. Rosenfeld, Matematiki i astronomi musulmanskogo srednevekovya i ikh trudi (VIII-XVII vv.) [Mathematicians and Astronomers of the Muslim Middle Ages and Their Works (VIII-XVII centuries)], 3 vols. [The latter englished and expanded as Boris A. Rosenfeld and Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Mathematicians, astronomers and other scholars of Islamic civilization and their works (7th-19th c.).]


The database was also designed to facilitate research on these materials. In particular, it allows for “transitive queries” that return chains of teachers/students, original texts (matn)/commentaries, ownership chains, and so forth. A Query Builder allows the researcher to query the data in numerous ways; one could, for example, search for all works on astronomical instruments copied between 1250-1350. Of course, the quality of the results depends on the stored data, which will continue to expand over time. Visualization tools are also being developed as aids for this research. You can find a preliminary set of tools in the "ISMI Lab" section.