Professor Roshdi Rashed, born in Cairo in 1936, is a world-renowned historian of science and currently an Honorary Distinguished Class Director of Research at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). His seminal contributions to the history, applications and development of sciences and mathematics at the hands of ancient Muslim scholars appeared in more than 40 books and 120 scholarly articles. He also initiated and supervised two Encyclopedias of the history of sciences in Islam.
Rashed conducted ground-breaking studies on the probability theory and its applications to social sciences. He also studied the role of mathematics in the experimental optics of Ibn al-Haytham and his successors, and discovered the manuscripts of Al-Alaa Ibn Sahl which embodied the theory of lenses and dioptrics long before European scientists of the 16th century. These findings led him to new insights into the contributions of Ibn al-Haytham and Kamãl al-Din al-Färisi to dioptrics and the Rainbow theory, respectively. He also edited, commented and translated into French all Arabic translations of ancient Greek works in mathematics (most of which were lost in Greek) as well as several previously unknown works of Muslim mathematicians of the 9th Century. These endeavors along with his discovery of four Arabic translations of Diophantus’ Arithmetica – lost in Greek – stimulated his research into the history of diophantine analysis. He studied Diophantus’s underlying algorithms, and was able, using tools of modern algebraic geometry, to determine the latent methods of Diophantus, and thereby shed new light into the works of later mathematicians like al-Khujandi and al-Khäzin — who invented the integer diophantine analysis — and subsequently Bachet, Fermat, Euler and Lagrange. Rashed also studied a hitherto unknown text of Lagrange on Diophantus and discovered many other texts that enabled him to reconstruct the history of the theory of numbers, showing for instance that the first studies on elementary arithmetical functions were accomplished before 1320 A.D. and that attempts to prove Euler theorem on perfect numbers were due to Ibn al-Haytham. He also edited, translated and commented on the works of al-Tusi and al-Khayyam. In addition to King Faisal International Prize for Islamic Studies, Rashed’s enormous contributions were recognized by numerous prestigious awards and honorary degrees.
Professor Roshdi Hifni Rashed has been awarded in recognition of his insightful studies, authentication, commentaries and translations of Muslims’ contributions to pure science, in particular their achievements in the fields of mathematics and optics. Professor Rashed has authored around 60 books and more than 100 scholarly articles in addition to his translation of some important relevant texts from ancient languages.
His methodology and the originality and depth of his works have earned him respect both in the Arab world and international. He is particularly recognized for his illustrious, six-volume book on the history of Arab contributions to science, and his four-volume book on analytical mathematics between the third and fifth Hejira centuries.