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WHAT IS ZERO ?
Zero is a strange number and one of the
greatest paradoxes of human thought. It means both
everything and nothing. It is both a number and the
numerical digit used to represent that numbers in numerals.
It fulfils a central role in mathematics as the additive
identity of the integers, real numbers and many other
algebraic structures. Without zero, not just mathematics,
but all branches of sciences would have struggled for
clearer definitions. As a digit, 0 is used as a placeholder in
place value systems. The value of Zero is well known today
as it holds the highest value today. Without the invention of
0, the binary system and computer are not
possible. It is a greatest invention on which every
calculation depends. Zero is a tiny number but it can never
‘Zero’ the ingenuity of our fore-fathers. The
number 0 is neither positive nor negative and
appears in the middle of a number line. It is
neither a prime number nor a composite
number. It cannot be a prime because it has
infinite number of factors and cannot be
expressed by multiplying prime numbers (0
must always be one of the factors).
Initially, zero was not considered a number. There was the idea of
empty space, which may be thought conceptually similar to
zero. Babylonians around 700 BC used two hooks to denote an
empty space in the positional notation. Records show that the
ancient Greeks seemed unsure about the status of zero as a
number. The concept of zero as a number and not merely a
symbol for separation is attributed to India where by the 9th
century AD practical calculations were carried out using zero,
which was treated like any other number, even in case of
division. The concept of zero took some time for acceptance. It
was only around 1600 that zero began to come into widespread
use after encountering a lot of support and also criticism from
mathematicians from the world.
History of Zero
It is said that the number zero originated or was
created in these 3 places. Ancient India, Ancient
Babylon, and the Mayan Civilization. Historians
believed that it came into existence from 458 AD.
Zeros were created at different times in each of
these civilizations. But the one that people think
was used first was in Ancient India by the Hindus
and the Arabics. Undoubtedly the complete credit
goes to India for the invention of Zero and its
effects use as a number.
The number 0 appear in the late
10th century in India.
The concept of zero as a
number and not merely a
symbol for separation is
attributed to India, where, by
the 9th century CE, practical
carried out using zero, which was treated like any other
number, even in case of division .The word for zero in
Hindu-India is “shunya” meaning void or empty. India is
recognized with great respect for its invention of Zero by
importance with Technological world .These are the
numbers that the Hindus and the Arabics use.
The Babylonians got their number system
from the Sumerians, the first people in
the world to develop a counting system.
They created 0 in the third century B.C.
The Babylonians were the first culture to
invent the place value system. The
Babylonian placeholder was not a true
zero because it was not used alone. Nor
was it used at the end of a number They
had a sexigesimal number system, that
is, they counted in 60s, as we count in
tens. However, they never developed the
idea of zero as a number. This is their
Six hundred years later and 12,000 miles
from Babylon, the Mayans developed
zero as a placeholder around A.D. 350
and used it to denote a placeholder in
their elaborate calendar systems.
Despite being highly skilled
mathematicians, the Mayans never used
zero in equations . The symbol for 0 in
the Mayans looks like a bowl or an eye.
Their numeral system was 20.They got
the number twenty by putting 0 below 1.
This means that zero is actually 20 and
one is 1. This is their numeral system.
The Islamic and the Arabic
mathematicians took the idea of
the Indian mathematicians further
west. Al-Khwarizmi described the
Indian place-value system of
numerals based on zero and other
numerals. Ibn Ezra, in the 12th
century, wrote The Book of the
Number, which spread the
concepts of the Indian numeral
symbols and decimal fractions to
It is also said that Aryabhatta invented the number 0.
Aryabhatta was one of the world’s greatest
mathematician-astronomer. Aryabhata devised a number
system, which had no zero, as a positional system, but
used to denote empty space. There is evidence that a
dot had been used in earlier manuscripts to denote an
empty space in positional notation. He gave the world
the digit "0" (zero) for which he became immortal . He
was the first mathematician to use the concept of zero.
He used zero for the first time to define decimal system
.it is said that he was aware of the concept and even
used it in his calculations. He certainly did not use the
symbol, but the French mathematician Georges Ifrah
argues that knowledge of zero was implicit in Aryabhata's
place-value system as a place holder for the powers of
ten with null coefficients.
It was known by the name “SHUNYA” .After the
translation of the Indian word “Shunya” became ‘Sifr’ in
Arabic language. The word ‘Sifr’ became ‘Zephyr’ in
Latin. Later the word ‘Zephyr’ became ZERO. In the
same way it was called by different words in different
Cyfra – in polish.
Cifra – in Spain.
Zero – in French.
Sonne – in Kannada.
Ziffer – in German.
Siffra – in Swedish.
Meithen – in Greek.
A Hindu astronomer and
mathematician named Brahmagupta developed a
symbol for zero — a dot underneath numbers. This
was recognized as a number of its own, as both an
idea and a symbol. He also developed mathematical
operations using zero, wrote rules for reaching zero
through addition and subtraction, and the results of
using zero in equations. The initial shape of zero
was exactly the same thing as the letter 'o'. It is only
today that there is a distinction between zero and
the letter 'o'.
The great mathematician of
India Brahmagupta wrote on nature of Zero in his
book “Bramhagupta Siddhanth”
1) A + 0 = A
2) A – 0 = A
3) A × 0 = 0
4) A / 0 = 0
His first 3 equations were correct but he failed to
express the product of 4th one. He told it as Zero
instead of Infinity. Later it was solved by another
famous Indian mathematician Bhaskar It was
mentioned in his famous book “Leelavathi”
The sum of zero and a negative number is negative.
The sum of zero and a positive number is positive.
The sum of zero and zero is zero.
The sum of a positive and a negative is their difference; or,
if their absolute values are equal, zero.
A positive or negative number when divided by zerois a
fraction with the zero as denominator.
Zero divided by a negative or positive number is either zero
or is expressed as a fraction with zero as numerator and
the finite quantity as denominator.
Zero divided by zero is zero.