# Physics Project #1: The History of Zero

```Physics Project #1:
The History of Zero
Jacob Suydam
Quan Nguyen
Jonathan De La Cruz
Life Before Zero
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Ancient Attitudes
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Math was not used for abstract concepts that it is
used for today. Ancient civilians only concerned
themselves with concrete ideals
They did not really have to worry about “zero”
objects or negative numbers when doing math.
Life Before Zero
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Babylonia
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system without zero for
over 1000 years.
Until 400BC, they did
not distinguish between
2106 and 216. (it was all
contextual)
Place holder was a
zero. (ex. 21 '' 6)
Life Before Zero
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Other placeholders existed, often varying in
the amount of “hooks”, depending on cultural
influence.
One universal occurrence: The placeholder
would never be on the end. (216 '' for 2160
never existed, it was interpreted based on
context.)
Life Before Zero

The Greeks
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Did not make use of
placeholders, as most
mathematical thought
went towards geometry
(Did not need to name
their numbers)
Merchants were the only
ones who recorded
numbers, and did not
need a new notation.
Invention of Zero
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The Mayans:
Mayans used a place-value
number system to base 20
with a symbol for zero.
However their use of zero
goes back further than this
and was in use before they
introduced the place-valued
number system. This is a
remarkable achievement but
peoples.
Invention of Zero

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India
Zero was used as a
placeholder and as an
empty value.
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Used the word “kha” for
position, which was later
the word for zero
First recorded usage of
zero would be in
Invention of Zero
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Rules of Zero:
Brahmagupta:
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subtraction and multiplication
of zero, but was confused by
division.
Zero + a negative = a
negative; zero + a positive = a
positive.
Zero + zero = zero.
Zero – a negative = a positive;
zero – a positive = a negative.
Zero – zero = zero.
Zero x anything = zero.
Invention of Zero
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Popularizing Zero:
al-Khwarizmi’s book: On the
Hindu Art of Reckoning.
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along with zero.
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First in what is now Iraq to use
zero.
Ch’in Chiu-Shao’s Mathematical
treatise in nine sections.
Zhu Shijie’s Jade mirror of four
elements.
Fibonacci is credited for bringing
Indian ideals to Europe, but only
treated it as a sign, not a number
necessarily.
Impact of Zero
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In society, zero represents an empty value.
(Absence of value or nothing)
After the creation of zero, it was used to be a
simple placeholder. Now it is a number of its
own.

Evolved from its placeholder position into its
current meaning as conceptual idea of nothing.
Impact of Zero
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We are now able to distinguish between the
uses of zero in conversations based on context.
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Ex: We know that if somebody tells us the price of
a slice of pizza is “two fifty&quot;, we know that they
mean \$2.50. However if the context changes to the
cost of a speaker system, and somebody tells us the
price is “two fifty”, we assume it means \$250.
Importance of Zero
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With zero, the existence of negative and
decimal numbers is possible, which is
important to concepts such as temperature.
Zero is a “origin point” on some scales,
allowing for a balanced start. (Neither positive
or negative.)
Zero is also important to rounding, which may
require rounding to the nearest tens or higher,
numbers that need zero.
References
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http://www.helium.com/items/295891-theimportance-of-zero-in-mathematics
http://www.gapsystem.org/~history/HistTopics/Zero.html
http://www.mediatinker.com/blog/archives/008
821.html
```