Definition:Zero/Historical Note

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Historical Note on Zero

The Babylonians from the $2$nd century BCE used a number base system of arithmetic, with a placeholder to indicate that a particular place within a number was empty, but its use was inconsistent. However, they had no actual recognition of zero as a mathematical concept in its own right.

The Ancient Greeks had no conception of zero as a number.

The concept of zero was invented by the mathematicians of India. The Bakhshali Manuscript from the $3$rd century CE contains the first reference to it.

However, even then there were reservations about its existence, and misunderstanding about how it behaved.

In Ganita Sara Samgraha of Mahaviracharya, c. $850$ CE appears:

A number multiplied by zero is zero and that number remains unchanged which is divided by, added to or diminished by zero.

It was not until the propagation of Arabic numbers, where its use as a placeholder made it important, that it became commonplace.