Who Invented Zero

Zero is synonym for the word none, meaning nothing, but zero plays a very important factor in our daily life and has great importance in mathematics and other subjects. The origin or invention of zero seems a bit mysterious as there are many claims and stories behind its first existence or invention and to properly unwind this sotry you need to go all the way back  to the 3rd century BC.

Zero may have no value when you see it as a single character, but when it is added to other characters, it can totally change the meaning and worth.

Let’s go and take a sneak peak into history for the origin of zero:


Who Invented Zero


Arabs: They were not the inventor but they brought zero with them to Europe.

Abu Abdullah Mohammad Ibn Musa al Khwarizmi , the great mathematician, astronomer, geographer and influential in the formation of algebra and who was borned in 780 (died in 850 CE) had something meangingful to share regardind the concept of zero.

Al Khwarizmi explained the use of zero. He introduced the Indian system of numerals, commonly known as the Arabic numeral system,  which through his work was introduced first to the Arabs through translations and later introduced to the west.

Al Khwarizmi one book which was later translated in early twelth century into Latin was basically focusing on arithematics and was called “Kitab al Jam’a wal – Tafreeq bil Hisaab al Hindi” (“The Book of Addition and Subtraction According to the Hindu Calculation”).

Al Khwarizmi was not the inventor of zero but rather he promote and explained zero.

Romans and Greeks: They were using ABACUS for all there calculations and therefore did not rely on  or  have a need for zero.

European: The people of Europe in those very early days were literally in the Dark Ages in many ways. They only came to know about the concept of zero when they performed trade with the Arab  in 8th Century. The Arabs were, as we mentioned above, guided and trained by Al Khwarizmi.

[box type=”info”] Now we are left with two civilizations whom a lot of historians are claiming to be the founder of zero.  Some  experts also believe that zero was develop in both places at the same time but the symbols they employed were different.[/box]

Mayan civilization whose existence was in Central America in the 3rd Centruy BC have claimed to be using Dot as a symbol for the modern zero.

Indian: Indian mathematician and astronomer, Aryabhata, around 9th century C.E is considered to be the founder of Zero. There is no doubt from Al Khwarizmi work and other Arabs scholars that this area was quite rich in knowledge. Inf act “Sindh” which is a province of Pakistan, was considered “Bab-Ul-Islam” and people from Arab use to come to this region to gain knowledge. Pakistan and India were one country before 1947.

Also some historian believe that the word “Shunya” (Which is an Indian word for zero) was translated in Arabic as “Sifr” meaning nothing. The arabic word “Sifr” was later translated to “Zephyr” in Latin and then it was evolved to the recent word “Zero”.



Image credit: lwr

5 Responses to Who Invented Zero
    July 18, 2012 | 12:28 pm

    the idea of ambiguity of invention of ZERO is totally wrong. zero was invented by GREAT MATHEMATICIAN ARYBHATTA/ INDIAN. IT WAS ACCEPTED BY MANY . IT IS VERY CLEAR. NO DOUBTS.

  2. Amelia
    January 18, 2013 | 11:42 am

    THE ancient Greeks were aware of the concept of zero (as in ‘We have no marbles’), but didn’t think of it as a number. Aristotle had dismissed it because you couldn’t divide by zero and get a down-to-earth result. The Romans never used their numerals for arithmetic, thus avoiding the need to keep a column empty with a zero symbol. Addition and subtraction were done instead on an abacus or counting frame. About 1,500 years ago in India a symbol was used to represent an abacus column with nothing in it. At first this was just a dot; later it became the ‘0’ we know today. In the 8th century the great Arab mathematician, al-Khwarizmi, took it up and the Arabs eventually brought the zero to Europe. It wasn’t warmly received; the Italians in particular were very suspicious of any change to their ancestors’ system of numerals. In 1259 a law was passed forbidding bankers from using zero or any of the new Arab numerals in their accounts. Thus the indian matemathicians did not make 0 as of today, the use of 0 as of today is by the Arab muslim matemathicians.

  3. kuron
    March 11, 2013 | 6:06 am

    Thank you for intresting post:)
    0 is philosophy:))
    0 is nothing,but 0 exist:))and,0 is Is the origin of the all beginning.
    0 is a wonderful number :))

  4. Karishma
    March 9, 2014 | 8:27 pm

    Written very nicely

  5. tina
    May 12, 2014 | 7:33 pm

    rfghykib gkklb

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL http://www.yesiknowthat.com/who-invented-zero/trackback/