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The Contemplation Of Zero Essay

643 words - 3 pages

Prompt: Tell us about zero.
Zero, zilch, zip, nada, naught, nil - frequent expressions used to express nothing or a lack of something. It is a concept often not thought about today. However, some of the greatest thinkers of the past spent a lot of time contemplating nothing. It was these thoughts that allowed the Arabic numeral system to gain prevalence in the western world, spreading over continents through the transportation of goods and the waging of wars. Today, many modern concepts and technologies rely entirely on the existence of zero. Zero, one of the most significant numerals in modern mathematics, shows that nothing really can be something.
Ancient empires of the Fertile Crescent developed the first numerical systems. In some systems, large quantities used a special symbol as a placeholder. Others did not use place holders at all. These number systems were primarily used to invoice livestock and goods, not necessitating the use of zero. The Ancient Greeks used a numerical system without zero or a placeholder. Although simple math using such a system is very complicated and time-consuming, they still managed to yield many pivotal, complex mathematical discoveries. The Greeks would have been able to discover much more if they had acknowledged the existence of zero. However, zero was not used until hundreds of years after the fall of the Greeks. Brahmagupta, an Indian mathematician, was the first to use the concept of zero. Starting around 650 AD, Brahmagupta used dots as placeholders and wrote rules relating zero and arithmetic. His rules, with the exception of division by zero, are still in use today. By 773 AD, his writings reached Baghdad via the spice trade, influencing Arabic mathematicians as they developed their numerical system. The fruit of their labor has progressed to become the world’s standard
numerical system today. Around that time, an influential Arabic mathematician, Mohammed ibn-
Musa al-Khowarizmi, began exploring functions which equaled zero. His discoveries formed the
basis for modern...

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