Born in Nishapur, in northeastern Iran, Khayyam spent most of his life near the court of the Karakhanid and Seljuq rulers in the period which witnessed the First Crusade. He is commonly recognised for both his astronomical expertise, which led to the reform of the calendar, and his poetry.
As a mathematician, Omar Khayyam is popular for his work on the classification and solution of cubic equations, where he provided geometric solutions by the intersection of conics. At the age of 22, he had already begun making a name for himself in the field of mathematics through the publication of Treatise on Demonstration of Problems of Algebra and Balancing.
Blessed with the guidance of scholars including Sheik Muhammand Mansuri and then the imam Mowaffaq Nishapuri, Khayyam made great strides in both mathematics and astronomy during his lifetime.
Khayyam was the pioneer of the general method for solving cubic equations. Even though he didn’t consider negative roots, his methods are sufficient to find geometrically all real, both positive and negative, roots of cubic equations.
Khayyam even explained his observation in his writings that cubic equations can have multiple solutions, as well as his methods for solving quadratic equations.
The mathematics and astronomy ingenous became so popular that his knowledge was sought by Malik Shah, Sultan of the Seljuq Empire, for reforming the calendar. Therefore, upon receiving an invitation to the Persian city of Isfahan, Khayyam worked in an observatory where he eventually succeeded in measuring the length of the year, leading to the development of the new Jalali calendar, which was used until the 20th century.
The Jalali calendar was based on the sun’s movement, as well as quadrennial and quinquennial leap years, with the calendar consisting of 25 ordinary years with 365 days and eight leap years that had 366 days.
Besides, Khayyam is celebrated for the poems, written in four lines, and published in The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. However, he became famous for his poems posthumously.
Khayyam breathed his last on December 4, 1131, at the age of 83.
Centuries after his demise, in 1963, the Shah of Iran ordered Khayyam’s grave be exhumed and his remains moved to a mausoleum in Nishapur where tourists could pay their respects.