Who Invented ZERO?
Zero or the digit ‘0’ is present everywhere. We can’t imagine the evolution and development of technology without the humble ‘Zero’. Do you know that Zero was not known to European people until the twelfth century! What about the other countries including India? They say that Zero was known to Indians since prehistoric times. Let’s go through the great history of Zero.
• Egyptians (1770 BC) used pictographs as numbers whose base was 10. They did have a symbol as zero that was used to indicate the base level of buildings.
• Babylonians (2nd millennium BC) had sophisticated mathematics with number system having base 60. Zero was used as the space between numbers. Note that they didn’t represent zero as 0 but as two slanted wedges (//).
• Ancient Greeks were confused about the existence of Zero. According to them how could nothing be equal to something?
• Until then Zero was not considered to be a digit but a placeholder. It wasn’t even used at the end of a number.
• Chinese used empty spaces to depict zero until the thirteenth century.
• India’s connection with Zero
• An ancient Indian mathematician Pingala (3rd century BC) represented Binary Numbers as long and short syllables as we use in Morse Codes. He gave the emptiness a Sanskrit name, ‘sunya’.
•An ancient Jain text dated back to 458AD contained ‘sunya’ as zero.
• Ancient Indian mathematical texts showed the use of ‘sunya’, a large dot depicting hollowness. Three samples of radiocarbon dating done in 2017 on manuscripts showed the use of zero (sunya) in 224-383 AD, 680-779 AD, and 885-993 AD. It makes India the first country to use zero as a number.
• Indian mathematician Aryabhata gave the concept of the powers of 10 that was later developed into decimal-based place value notation.
• Another great Indian mathematician and astronomer Brahmagupta (7th century) used zero, negative numbers and simple rules of Algebra in his work.
• This is the brief history of Zero/Sunya. There was a concept of nothingness in scholars’ minds across the world. Some used an empty place and some inverted wedges, but one thing is clear that they didn’t give Zero the status of a number. It was India who gave a hollow-round symbol to Zero and showed the world what can be achieved by counting this ’emptiness’ with the already existing numbers:)
This post is a part of Blogchatter A2Z and Global AtoZ blogging challenge. I’m writing 26 posts in the month of April on the theme Glimpse of India. Follow my work on social media platforms with hashtags #AditiWrites, #CelebrateIndiaWithAditi