# Physics Project _1_ The History of Zero by hcj

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```									Physics Project #1:
The History of Zero
Jacob Suydam
Quan Nguyen
Jonathan De La Cruz
Life Before Zero
n   Ancient Attitudes
n   Math was not used for abstract concepts that it is
used for today. Ancient civilians only concerned
themselves with concrete ideals
n   They did not really have to worry about “zero”
objects or negative numbers when doing math.
Life Before Zero
n   Babylonia
system without zero for
over 1000 years.
n   Until 400BC, they did
not distinguish between
2106 and 216. (it was all
contextual)
n   Place holder was a
zero. (ex. 21 '' 6)
Life Before Zero
n   Other placeholders existed, often varying in
the amount of “hooks”, depending on cultural
influence.
n   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
n   The Greeks
n   Did not make use of
placeholders, as most
mathematical thought
went towards geometry
(Did not need to name
their numbers)
n   Merchants were the only
ones who recorded
numbers, and did not
need a new notation.
Invention of Zero
n   The Mayans:
n   By 665 CE (AD) the
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
n   India
n   Zero was used as a
placeholder and as an
empty value.
n   Used the word “kha” for
position, which was later
the word for zero
n   First recorded usage of
zero would be in
Invention of Zero
n   Rules of Zero:
n   Brahmagupta:
n   Laid the rules for addition,
subtraction and multiplication
of zero, but was confused by
division.
n   Zero + a negative = a
negative; zero + a positive = a
positive.
n   Zero + zero = zero.
n   Zero – a negative = a positive;
zero – a positive = a negative.
n   Zero – zero = zero.
n   Zero x anything = zero.
Invention of Zero
n   Popularizing Zero:
n   al-Khwarizmi’s book: On the
Hindu Art of Reckoning.
n   First in what is now Iraq to use
zero.
n   Indian ideals spread to China,
along with zero.
n   Ch’in Chiu-Shao’s Mathematical
treatise in nine sections.
n   Zhu Shijie’s Jade mirror of four
elements.
n   Fibonacci is credited for bringing
Indian ideals to Europe, but only
treated it as a sign, not a number
necessarily.
Impact of Zero
n   In society, zero represents an empty value.
(Absence of value or nothing)
n   After the creation of zero, it was used to be a
simple placeholder. Now it is a number of its
own.
n   Evolved from its placeholder position into its
current meaning as conceptual idea of nothing.
Impact of Zero
n   We are now able to distinguish between the
uses of zero in conversations based on context.
n   Ex: We know that if somebody tells us the price of
a slice of pizza is “two fifty", 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
n   With zero, the existence of negative and
decimal numbers is possible, which is
important to concepts such as temperature.
n   Zero is a “origin point” on some scales,
allowing for a balanced start. (Neither positive
or negative.)
n   Zero is also important to rounding, which may
require rounding to the nearest tens or higher,
numbers that need zero.
References
n   http://www.helium.com/items/295891-the-
importance-of-zero-in-mathematics
n   http://www.gap-
system.org/~history/HistTopics/Zero.html
n   http://www.mediatinker.com/blog/archives/00
8821.html

```
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