Browse Definitions:
Definition

zero (0)

Contributor(s): Hertzl Regev, Neeraj Sharma, and Harvey Wachtel

In mathematics, zero, symbolized by the numeric character 0, is both:

1. In a positional number system, a place indicator meaning "no units of this multiple." For example, in the decimal number 1,041, there is one unit in the thousands position, no units in the hundreds position, four units in the tens position, and one unit in the 1-9 position.

2. An independent value midway between +1 and -1.

In writing outside of mathematics, depending on the context, various denotative or connotative meanings for zero include "total failure," "absence," "nil," and "absolutely nothing." ("Nothing" is an even more abstract concept than "zero" and their meanings sometimes intersect.)

Notation for placeholders in positional numbers is found on stone tablets from ancient (3,000 B.C.) Sumeria. Yet, the Greeks had no concept of a number like zero. In terms of modern use, zero is sometimes traced to the Indian mathematician Aryabhata who, about 520 A.D., devised a positional decimal number system that contained a word, "kha," for the idea of a placeholder. By 876, based on an existing tablet inscription with that date, the kha had become the symbol "0". Meanwhile, somewhat after Aryabhata, another Indian, Brahmagupta, developed the concept of the zero as an actual independent number, not just a place-holder, and wrote rules for adding and subtracting zero from other numbers. The Indian writings were passed on to al-Khwarizmi (from whose name we derive the term algorithm ) and thence to Leonardo Fibonacci and others who continued to develop the concept and the number.

Various arithmetic operations that include zero have sometimes been the subject of dispute such as the result of dividing zero by zero. The answer is that it can't be done. Although early mathematicians tried to wrestle some sort of result out of this operation, later ones have decided that this problem just won't bear any fruit. This is viewed as another case where language allows us to ask a question that really doesn't make sense to ask.

Zero to the zeroeth power on the other hand has three possible answers. For some apparently useful reasons, the answer is 1. But in other contexts, the answer can be either "indeterminate" (not capable of being calculated) or "undefined/nonexistent."

This was last updated in March 2011

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • cyborg anthropologist

    A cyborg anthropologist is an individual who studies the interaction between humans and technology, observing how technology can ...

  • RegTech

    RegTech, or regulatory technology, is a term used to describe technology that is used to help streamline the process of ...

  • conduct risk

    Conduct risk is the prospect of financial loss to an organization that is caused by the actions of an organization's ...

SearchSecurity

  • application whitelisting

    Application whitelisting is the practice of identifying applications that have been deemed safe for execution and restricting all...

  • security

    Security, in information technology (IT), is the defense of digital information and IT assets against internal and external, ...

  • insider threat

    An insider threat is a malicious hacker (also called a cracker or a black hat) who is an employee or officer of a business, ...

SearchHealthIT

  • HIPAA Privacy Rule

    The Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information, commonly known as the HIPAA Privacy Rule, establishes ...

  • HIPAA business associate agreement (BAA)

    Under the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, a HIPAA business associate agreement (BAA) is a ...

  • telemedicine

    Telemedicine is the remote delivery of healthcare services, such as health assessments or consultations, over the ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • data recovery

    Data recovery restores data that has been lost, accidentally deleted, corrupted or made inaccessible. Learn how data recovery ...

  • disaster recovery plan (DRP)

    A company's disaster recovery policy is enhanced with a documented DR plan that formulates strategies, and outlines preparation ...

  • fault-tolerant

    Systems with integrated fault tolerance are designed to withstand multiple hardware failures to ensure continuous availability.

SearchStorage

  • data deduplication

    Deduplication retains one unique data instance to reduce storage and bandwidth consumed by remote backups, replication and ...

  • byte

    In most computer systems, a byte is a unit of data that is eight binary digits long. Bytes are often used to represent a ...

  • Secure Digital card (SD card)

    SD cards use flash memory to provide nonvolatile storage. They are more rugged than traditional storage media and are used in ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • flash file system

    Flash file systems are designed specifically for memory devices. A well-designed flash device and flash file system ensure ...

  • IOPS (input/output operations per second)

    IOPS measures the maximum number of reads and writes to non-contiguous storage. It is not an actual benchmark since vendor ...

  • eMMC (embedded MultiMediaCard)

    An embedded MultiMediaCard (eMMC) is a small storage device made up of NAND flash memory and a simple storage controller.

SearchCloudStorage

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

  • Zadara VPSA and ZIOS

    Zadara Storage provides block, file or object storage with varying levels of compute and capacity through its ZIOS and VPSA ...

Close