Where was zero invented?

The inconsequential number zero was a major invention which has had a tremendous impact on the history of mankind because it made the development of higher mathematics possible. Without the invention of zero, higher mathematics would not have been developed to its present status. Although it is not known that who certainly invented it, yet there is no controversy about the claim that it was invented in India around 2nd3rd century A.D. Right from the beginning of civilisation, man has tried many different methods to write numbers. For this purpose, Greeks used letters of their alphabet, while Egyptians used appropriate pictures. Romans used a complicated system. They used ‘X’ to represent 10, ‘C’ to mark 100 and ‘M’ for 1000. For 1 they used ‘I’, for 5 ‘V’, for 50 ‘L’ and for 500 ‘D’. They represented 4 by ‘IV’. If they had to write 1648, they wrote ‘MDCXLVIII’. This was indeed a complicated method. However, long before the birth of Christ, the Hindus in India had invented a far better number system but without zero. Later zero was invented. Unlike many ancient systems, today we have a zero to represent nothing. It was introduced in the modern role by Hindu mathematicians. It was brought to Europe about the year 900 A.D. by the Arab traders, and came to be known as the Hindu-Arabic System. In this system, all numbers are written within the 9 digits — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and the zero (sunya). Here each figure has a value according to the place in which it is written. The Romans did not have a zero in their system. Zero has some peculiar properties. When it is added or subtracted from any number, the result remains the same. When any number is multiplied by zero, it becomes zero. It is the only number which can be divided by any other number, but it cannot divide any other number. The expression 0/0 is neither meaningless nor meaningful. In fact, it is indeterminate. In a nutshell, zero is a number smaller than any finite positive number, but larger than any finite negative number. Division by zero is an undefined operation. It may be regarded as the identity element for addition in the field of real numbers. The invention of zero became the turning point in the development of culture and civilisation — without which progress of modern science, industry and commerce was inconceivable.

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