## Tuesday, December 16, 2014

### Zero This

"0 (zero)" is a number that fulfills a central role in mathematics as the additive identity of the integers, real numbers, and many other algebraic structures. The concept of zero as a number and not merely a symbol for separation is a discovery attributed to India, where, by the 9th century AD, practical calculations were carried out using zero. Indian scholar Pingala (circa 5th–2nd century BC) and his contemporary Indian scholars used the Sanskrit word sunya to refer to zero or void. In 498 AD, Indian mathematician and astronomer Aryabhata stated that "sthanat sthana? dasaguna? syat" i.e. "from place to place each is ten times the preceding," which is the origin of the modern decimal-based place value notation. The oldest known text to use a decimal place-value system, including a zero, is the Jain text from India entitled the Lokavibhâga, dated 458 AD, where shunya ("void" or "empty") was employed for this purpose.

Yet, even after knowing all this and for so long, why do we teach our kids, even in India to learn the number system like our white baboos knew beginning from 1, 2, 3, 4... instead of beginning with 0, 1, 2, 3, 4...?! Are we eternally cursed to remain under the white man's shadow?! How long?!