History of Zero
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
(Data from the book "the calender" by D. E. Duncan).
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.
Argonne National Laboratory
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Update: June 2012