We cannot expect the existence of Maths and its calculation in the absence of Zero. ‘Zero’ is an extraordinary digit of Maths. If used in multiplication than it converts the whole value into Zero and if used in addition, it makes no changes in the value.
Zero is the symbol of nothing in both Maths and life. It is believed that zero is the greatest innovation in the history of modern humans. The history behind the invention of Zero is as interesting as zero is.
So without much ado, here is the history of zero.
History of Zero
According to most accepted theory, zero was first used by the Babylon civilization. There are many pieces of evidence available to show that zero was an integral part of the calculations of Maths in Babylon. It is believed that the Indian number system is inspired by the Babylon number system that’s why here also zero is presented in ancient times.
The available evidence says that in Babylon the zero was used in calculus related problems. The Babylon number system was inspired by the Sumerian number system. According to this, the Sumerian was the first one who invented and used zero but it was not a part of their number system. Studies show that Sumerians used to have a pair of angled wedges in place of ‘0’.
Zero In India
There are many theories behind the history of Zero and its relation with India. Many people believe that zero was invented in India by the Indian Mathematician ‘Aryabhatt’. Many arithmetic calculations done by Indian mathematician around fifth century A.D. shows that zero was presented at that time and it was used to make the calculation more accurate.
Zero is presented in an ancient Indian manuscript ‘Bakhshali’. It is believed that its a training manual for Buddhist monks which has mathematical calculations. This manuscript is written on 70 pieces of birch bark and zero is mentioned in the text written in this. When this menu script is carbon dated then it comes out that it was written in somewhere between 224 AD and 383 AD. It is the oldest evidence available that shows the presence zero in mathematics calculations. According to this evidence, ‘Zero’ was invented in India. But many western countries believe that zero is used properly in Mathematics calculations by them. But now it is proved and accepted that India was the first country who gave place zero in the number system.
Zero in West Countries
After 600 years of Babylon civilization one other civilization names Mayans used zero in their calendar. This Mayan civilization was geographically 12,000 miles far from Babylon. In Mayans, calendar zero was used as a placeholder to elaborate it. With the use of zero in the calendar, the Mayans got the credit to use zero from scratch.
The Bottom Line
Many scholars believe that zero was invented in Babylon and from there it came to India. But many other scholars give the credit of invention of zero to ancient Indian Mathematicians. In 428 A.D. zero was popularly used in Indian mathematics’ equations. Before that also zero was presented in Indian poetry and chants in form of void or sky. It was Brahmagupta who used a dot as the symbol of zero. In A.D. 773, zero reached to Arab and called ‘sifr’. By 1600, zero was reached to Europe and fairly used by all the mathematicians. It was the time when Isaac Newton and other mathematicians developed new concepts of Physics, Calculus, and Maths.
So that was the journey of zero from a pair of angled wedges to ‘0’.