Algebra has its beginning in the cultures of ancient Egypt and Babylonia between 1800 and 1600 B.C. Mathematicians of the time could solve for unknowns, but only used positive numbers. Their mathematics involved the use of few symbols and is called rhetorical algebra.
Algebra continued through the Greek classical period, and advanced considerably with Diophantus' book, "Arithmetica," written around 250 A.D. The Arabian mathematician Mohammed ibn-Musa al-Khowarizmi authored the book "Hisab al-Jabr w'al Muqabala" around 830 A.D. It is from this book that the word "algebra" originates. The field of algebra evolved further when philosopher and mathematician René Descartes incorporated the use of symbols, as demonstrated in his book, "La Géométrie," which was written in 1637.