Who invented zero 3


In general, you have to differentiate between the number and the digit zero. The digit zero enables decimal places to be formed. The number zero, on the other hand, stands alone and denotes the absence of elements or objects. Synonyms would also be “nothing”, “emptiness” or “none”, which corresponds to the original Latin meaning (nullus).

The history of zero

The first appearance of zero

Most cultures over the last millennia did not have a number zero. Often it was not needed due to the not so highly developed culture or the zero was only available as a word. For example, the zero is superfluous in the Roman number system, since every digit has its fixed value. The position only decides whether the value of the digit should be added or subtracted.

The first symbols for numbers can be found in prehistoric times. However, the emergence of the zero only became necessary when calculating with numbers. In today's decimal system, the zero is of crucial importance because it changes the value of the individual digits significantly. So there is z. B. a crucial difference between the numbers 114 and 1104.

The first representations of the zero as a number can be found for the first time about 5000 years ago with the Sumerians, whereby this zero cannot be compared with today's zero, because it does not stand for the number zero. In addition, the position system was not yet well developed and therefore not suitable for complex arithmetic.

The discovery of zero and the creation of a position system

Nowadays, zero often seems to us to be taken for granted. However, it is one of the most impressive discoveries made by mankind. The special thing about zero is not only the mathematical properties mentioned below. It is also noteworthy that a symbol has been found for something that does not exist. This gives zero a very high philosophical value. However, the most important function has the zero in the formation of a place value system (see quotation 1 on page 7), which revolutionized mathematics.

In addition to the Sumerians, whose knowledge of zero was lost, other cultures also discovered zero. The number zero was discovered three more times in human history. First from the Babylonians, from the Mayas and finally from the Indians.

In the 4th century the Babylonians saw the zero. However, the function of the zero was limited to a kind of “gap filler”. For example, if you subtract two equal numbers from each other, the Babylonians used their “gap filler zero”.

As early as the 3rd and 9th centuries, the Majas developed a system of values. The value system of this Indian high culture also included the number zero. The Majas' place value system was, however, a major disadvantage because the system is irregular and therefore not suitable for arithmetic, but at most for counting. It is noteworthy that the months of the Majas began not with the first but with the zeroth day.

The mathematical systems of the Babylonians and Majas could not spread beyond their own cultures. Ultimately, the Indian number system prevailed worldwide. The Indians developed today's decimal system from the abacus, which was widespread throughout the civilized world of that time. The abacus is a slide rule with nine stones each for units, tens, hundreds, thousands ... and was used in Europe until late in the 18th century.

In the 6th century the zero appeared in India. The point or a circle was used as a symbol for the zero. From this, today's oval-shaped zero developed. With the invention of zero in India, the position system also developed. The position system determines the value of the individual digits. The zero or another digit after a digit increases the value of this digit by times ten, two digits times hundred and so on. This made it possible to put larger numbers on paper with just a few digits. So the decimal system common today was invented. The special thing about this number system is that the size of the numbers is easier to understand. It also simplifies the arithmetic enormously.

Many other Asian cultures then recognized the advantages of the position system and the zero. In the 8th century the Chinese took over the zero and shortly afterwards the Arabs. In the 13th century, the Crusades established trade relations between Arabia and Italy. As a result, the zero came to Europe from the Arabs via Italy. This is why our number system is often referred to as Arabic, although Indian would be more correct.

However, it took a while for zero to prevail in Europe. Leonardo of Pisa already dealt with the zero in his work "Liber abaci" at the beginning of the 13th century. However, since zero was viewed by the Catholic cherry as "devilish", the zero was only used as a number in the 14th century among the educated class of the population and in the 17th century thanks to the so-called "arithmetic masters", such as Adam Riese one was through to the general population.

The term "place value system" used in the course of the text can be defined as follows:

“A place value system (also known as a position system) is a number system that uses a few symbols (usually called digits or numerals) to represent numbers of any size in a comparatively compact manner. In this context one speaks of the b-adic representation of numbers (not to be confused with p-adic numbers), where the variable b stands for the number of symbols. In this context, the value of b is often referred to as the base number.

An example of a number system that is not a place value system is that of Roman numerals. It is an addition system. ... "
Source: Wikipedia