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Tuesday, 31 December 2013


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0  is both a number[1] and the numerical digit used to represent that number in numerals. It plays a central role in mathematics as the additive identity of the integers, real numbers, and many other algebraic structures. As a digit, 0 is used as a placeholder in place value systems. In the English language, 0 may be called zero, nought or (US) naught , nil, or "o". Informal or slang terms for zero include zilch and zip.[2] Ought or aught , have also been used.
0 is the integer immediately preceding 1. In most cultures, 0 was identified before the idea of negative things that go lower than zero was accepted. Zero is an even number, because it is divisible by 2. 0 is neither positive nor negative. By some definitions 0 is also a natural number, and then the only natural number not to be positive. Zero is a number which quantifies a count or an amount of null size.

The value, or number, zero is not the same as the digit zero, used in numeral systems using positional notation. Successive positions of digits have higher weights, so inside a numeral the digit zero is used to skip a position and give appropriate weights to the preceding and following digits. A zero digit is not always necessary in a positional number system, for example, in the number 02. In some instances, a leading zero may be used to distinguish a number.
In the BC calendar era, the year 1 BC is the first year before AD 1; no room is reserved for a year zero. By contrast, in astronomical year numbering, the year 1 BC is numbered 0, the year 2 BC is numbered 𢄡, and so on.

In 976 AD the Persian encyclopedist Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Khwarizmi, in his "Keys of the Sciences", remarked that if, in a calculation, no number appears in the place of tens, then a little circle should be used "to keep the rows". This circle the Arabs called صفر E63ifr, "empty". That was the earliest mention of the name E63ifr that eventually became zero.

Italian zefiro already meant "west wind" from Latin and Greek zephyrus; this may have influenced the spelling when transcribing Arabic E63ifr. The Italian mathematician Fibonacci (c.1170-1250), who grew up in North Africa and is credited with introducing the decimal system to Europe, used the term zephyrum. This became zefiro in Italian, which was contracted to zero in Venetian.

As the decimal zero and its new mathematics spread from the Arab world to Europe in the Middle Ages, words derived from E63ifr and zephyrus came to refer to calculation, as well as to privileged knowledge and secret codes. According to Ifrah, "in thirteenth-century Paris, a 'worthless fellow' was called a '... cifre en algorisme', i.e., an 'arithmetical nothing'." From E63ifr also came French chiffre = "digit", "figure", "number", chiffrer = "to calculate or compute", chiffré = "encrypted". Today, the word in Arabic is still E63ifr, and cognates of E63ifr are common in the languages of Europe and southwest Asia.

The modern numerical digit 0 is usually written as a circle or ellipse. Traditionally, many print typefaces made the capital letter O more rounded than the narrower, elliptical digit 0. Typewriters originally made no distinction in shape between O and 0; some models did not even have a separate key for the digit 0. The distinction came into prominence on modern character displays.

A slashed zero can be used to distinguish the number from the letter. The digit 0 with a dot in the center seems to have originated as an option on IBM 3270 displays and has continued with the some modern computer typefaces such as Andalé Mono. One variation uses a short vertical bar instead of the dot. Some fonts designed for use with computers made one of the capital-O-digit-0 pair more rounded and the other more angular (closer to a rectangle). A further distinction is made in falsification-hindering typeface as used on German car number plates by slitting open the digit 0 on the upper right side. Sometimes the digit 0 is used either exclusively, or not at all, to avoid confusion altogether.
 The middle of the 2nd millennium BC, the Babylonian mathematics had a sophisticated sexagesimal positional numeral system. The lack of a positional value (or zero) was indicated by a space between sexagesimal numerals. By 300 BC, a punctuation symbol (two slanted wedges) was co-opted as a placeholder in the same Babylonian system. In a tablet unearthed at Kish (dating from about 700 BC), the scribe Bêl-bân-aplu wrote his zeros with three hooks, rather than two slanted wedges.

The Babylonian placeholder was not a true zero because it was not used alone. Nor was it used at the end of a number. Thus numbers like 2 and 120 (2×60), 3 and 180 (3×60), 4 and 240 (4×60), looked the same because the larger numbers lacked a final sexagesimal placeholder. Only context could differentiate them.

Records show that the ancient Greeks seemed unsure about the status of zero as a number. They asked themselves, "How can nothing be something?", leading to philosophical and, by the Medieval period, religious arguments about the nature and existence of zero and the vacuum. The paradoxes of Zeno of Elea depend in large part on the uncertain interpretation of zero.

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 Indian scholar Pingala (circa 5th-2nd century BC) used binary numbers in the form of short and long syllables (the latter equal in length to two short syllables), making it similar to Morse code. He and his contemporary Indian scholars used the Sanskrit word B Bnya to refer to zero or void.

History of zero
The back of Olmec Stela C from Tres Zapotes, the second oldest Long Count date yet discovered. The numerals translate to September, 32 BC (Julian). The glyphs surrounding the date are thought to be one of the few surviving examples of Epi-Olmec script.The Mesoamerican Long Count calendar developed in south-central Mexico and Central America required the use of zero as a place-holder within its vigesimal  positional numeral system. Many different glyphs, including this partial quatrefoil--were used as a zero symbol for these Long Count dates, the earliest of which (on Stela 2 at Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapas) has a date of 36 BC. Since the eight earliest Long Count dates appear outside the Maya homeland, it is assumed that the use of zero in the Americas predated the Maya and was possibly the invention of the Olmecs. Many of the earliest Long Count dates were found within the Olmec heartland, although the Olmec civilization ended by the 4th century BC, several centuries before the earliest known Long Count dates.

Although zero became an integral part of Maya numerals, it did not influence Old World numeral systems.

Quipu, a knotted cord device, used in the Inca Empire and its predecessor societies in the Andean region to record accounting and other digital data, is encoded in a base ten positional system. Zero is represented by the absence of a knot in the appropriate position.

The use of a blank on a counting board to represent 0 dated back in India to 4th century BC.

In China, counting rods were used for decimal calculation since the 4th century BC including the use of blank spaces. Chinese mathematicians understood negative numbers and zero, some mathematicians used 無入, A7A, SE3 for the latter, until Gautama Siddha introduced the symbol 0. The Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art, which was mainly composed in the 1st century AD, stated "[when subtracting] subtract same signed numbers, add differently signed numbers, subtract a positive number from zero to make a negative number, and subtract a negative number from zero to make a positive number."

By 130 AD, Ptolemy, influenced by Hipparchus and the Babylonians, was using a symbol for zero (a small circle with a long overbar) within a sexagesimal numeral system otherwise using alphabetic Greek numerals. Because it was used alone, not just as a placeholder, this Hellenistic zero was perhaps the first documented use of a number zero in the Old World. However, the positions were usually limited to the fractional part of a number (called minutes, seconds, thirds, fourths, etc.)-they were not used for the integral part of a number. In later Byzantine manuscripts of Ptolemy's Syntaxis Mathematica (also known as the Almagest), the Hellenistic zero had morphed into the Greek letter omicron (otherwise meaning 70).

Another zero was used in tables alongside Roman numerals by 525 (first known use by Dionysius Exiguus), but as a word, nulla meaning "nothing", not as a symbol. When division produced zero as a remainder, nihil, also meaning "nothing", was used. These medieval zeros were used by all future medieval computists (calculators of Easter). The initial "N" was used as a zero symbol in a table of Roman numerals by Bede or his colleague around 725.

In 498 AD, Indian mathematician and astronomer Aryabhata stated that "Sthanam sthanam dasa gunam" or place to place in ten times in value, which is the origin of the modern decimal-based place value notation.

The oldest known text to use a decimal place-value system, including a zero, is the Jain text from India entitled the Lokavibhâga, dated 458 AD. This text uses Sanskrit numeral words for the digits, with words such as the Sanskrit word for void for zero. The first known use of special glyphs for the decimal digits
that includes the indubitable appearance of a symbol for the digit zero, a small circle, appears on a stone inscription found at the Chaturbhuja Temple at Gwalior in India, dated 876 AD. There are many documents on copper plates, with the same small o in them, dated back as far as the sixth century AD, but their authenticity may be doubted.

The Hindu-Arabic numerals and the positional number system were introduced around 500 AD, and in 825 AD, it was introduced by a Persian scientist, al-Khwārizm B, in his book on arithmetic. This book synthesized Greek and Hindu knowledge and also contained his own fundamental contribution to mathematics and science including an explanation of the use of zero.


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