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Name: zelda
Status: N/A
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 1999-2001

For my next class I am teaching I need to know the following:

1.Who invented the # zero.
2.Where it was invented.
3. What happened.
4.Why they invented it.
5.How they invented it.

The nr. zero was invented independently in India and by the Maya. In India a decimal system was used, like ours, but they used an empty space for zero up to 3rd Century BC. This was confusing for an empty space was also used to separate numbers, and so they invented the dot for a zero. The first evidence for the use of the symbol that we now know as zero stems from the 7th century AD. The Maya invented the number zero for their calendars in the 3rd century AD. The number zero reached European civilisation through the Arabs after 800 AD. The Greek and Roman did not need the number zero for they did their calculations on an abacus. The name 'zero' comes from the arabic 'sifr'. (Data from the book "the calender" by D. E. Duncan).

Dr. Wassenaar

Up-date: May, 2001
another theory about the origin or first use of the number zero that is different from the theories presented in your URL,

The reference for the theory is on page 140, "The genius of China," authored by Robert Temple (Introduced by Joseph Needham) and published by Simon & Schuster Inc (1986).

I believe that information provided by ANL should be as accurate and as complete as possible.


B.J. Hsieh
Argonne National Laboratory

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