# History of 0 in maths

## From 0 to Infinity in 26 Centuries: The Extraordinary Story of Maths by Chris Waring

From 0 to Infinity in 26 Centuries: The Extraordinary Story of Maths by Chris Waring does pretty much what it says on the cover - its a brief (make that very brief) history of mathemtics, that one thing that invades every aspect of our lives, whether we like it or not. It was one of those random book shop finds, something that sparked my interest one day, but could have just as easily put me off on another. Its a book that my husband groaned at when he saw me, rolling his eyes in a bored fashion, and one that my mother, upon hearing that Id picked it up, proclaimed what on Earth do you want to read that for?The thing about maths is that it really is all-pervading. Its tentacles reach into pretty much every aspect of our lives from when we first start learning it in school to our work lives and beyond. It even features heavily in art and architecture. We learn a lot about maths - how to do basic arithmetic, more complex equations, working out areas and routes and so on - but we rarely learn about where it came from and who made the discoveries, the history of it all, and its that that left me so tempted.

So yeah, I was intrigued and I was right to be, for this little unassuming book turned out to be extremely interesting. Even my doubting mother enjoyed the random facts I read out to her, such as the fact that the equals sign was invented by a Welshman (go Wales!), and that Leibniz taught himself to read Latin at the age of seven. Warings delightful way with words helped too - he turned what could potentially be a rather stuffy, boring topic into one that was lightly humoured, easy to read, and enjoyable. The book was so stuffed full of fascinating tidbits and written in such a pleasant way that I raced through the mere 193 pages at a rate of knots.

That was one of the problems though - not so much that the book was short, but that each fact or phase in history was glanced over so briefly that you could miss it if you blinked. I suppose trying to squeeze 26 centuries into 193 pages is quite a feat - thats almost 13 and a half years per page, after all. Still, I felt it would have been nice to have a little more detail, at least in parts. The narrative was also a little jumpy. Despite a clear attempt at a linear narrative, matheticians were mentioned on one page and then again 50 pages later, along with a handy page guide in brackets. Thats not that big a deal, of course, but following the page references (which I didnt, by the way) could be positively dizzying.

If theres one thing for sure, its that this book wouldnt be for everyone. I mean, its maths - just the topic is enough to instill dread and fear in some. But if youre interested in maths, even if you can only see a tiny inkling of vague appeal, I think youll like this book. Its brief enough to keep you interested while throwing up fascinating facts in a humourous and engaging manner.

## Who Invented Zero?

By Timothy Revell. A recent batch of carbon dating is causing the history of mathematics to be rewritten, as it has discovered zeros dating back to a period years before previously seen. The numbers appear in an ancient Indian text called the Bakhshali manuscript, which consists of 70 leaves of birch bark, filled with mathematics and text in the form of Sanskrit. The manuscript was first discovered by a local farmer in , and was named after the village it was found in, in what is now Pakistan. It was originally thought that manuscript was from the 9 th century, but the dating methods revealed that the oldest pages are from somewhere between AD and AD. This means that the manuscript predates a 9th century inscription of zero on the wall of a temple in Gwalior, India, which was previously considered to be the oldest recorded example of a zero. Across the text there are hundreds of zeros denoted using a dot.

Though people have always understood the concept of nothing or having nothing, the concept of zero is relatively new; it fully developed in India around the fifth century A. Before then, mathematicians struggled to perform the simplest arithmetic calculations. Today, zero — both as a symbol or numeral and a concept meaning the absence of any quantity — allows us to perform calculus, do complicated equations, and to have invented computers. The foundation, based in the Netherlands, researches the origins of the zero digit. Zero as a placeholder was invented independently in civilizations around the world, said Dr.

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## Zero in the Americas

Main menu Search. The History of Negative Numbers. Although the first set of rules for dealing with negative numbers was stated in the 7th century by the Indian mathematician Brahmagupta, it is surprising that in the British mathematician Francis Maseres was claiming that negative numbers. Maseres and his contemporary, William Friend took the view that negative numbers did not exist. However, other mathematicians around the same time had decided that negative numbers could be used as long as they had been eliminated during the calculations where they appeared.

Early history: Angled wedges

From placeholder to the driver of calculus, zero has crossed the greatest minds and most diverse borders since it was born many centuries ago.

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The number 0 fulfills a central role in mathematics as the additive identity of the integers , real numbers , and many other algebraic structures.