عنوان مقاله [English]
نویسنده [English]چکیده [English]
It is generally recognised that ‘zero’ as we understand the concept today originated in two geographically separated cultures: the Maya and Indian. However, if zero merely signified a magnitude or a direction separator (i.e. separating those above the zero level from those below the zero level), the Egyptian zero, nfr, dating back at least four thousand years, amply served these purposes. If zero was merely a place-holder symbol, indicating the absence of a quantity at a specified place position, then such a zero was present in the Babylonian positional number system before the first recorded occurrence of the Indian zero. If zero was represented by just an empty space within a well-defined positional number system, such a zero was present in Chinese mathematics a few centuries before the beginning of the Common Era. The Indian culture from an early time showed interest and even fascination for large numbers and there is no contrary evidence to indicate that this was not so in the Mayan cultures. The dissemination westwards of the Indian zero as an integral part of the Indian numerals is one of the most remarkable episodes in the history of mathematics and the story is well-known.