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

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

SearchSecurity

  • computer exploit

    A computer exploit, or exploit, is an attack on a computer system, especially one that takes advantage of a particular ...

  • cyberwarfare

    Cyberwarfare is computer- or network-based conflict involving politically motivated attacks by a nation-state on another ...

  • insider threat

    Insider threat is a generic term for a threat to an organization's security or data that comes from within.

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR)

    Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) are closely related practices that describe an organization's preparation for ...

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

SearchStorage

  • OpenStack Block Storage (Cinder)

    OpenStack Block Storage (Cinder) is open source software designed to create and manage a service that provides persistent data ...

  • SATA Express (SATAe)

    SATA Express (SATAe or Serial ATA Express) is a bus interface to connect storage devices to a computer motherboard, supporting ...

  • DIMM (dual in-line memory module)

    A DIMM (dual in-line memory module) is the standard memory card used in servers and PCs.

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • 3D XPoint

    3D XPoint is memory storage technology jointly developed by Intel and Micron Technology Inc.

  • RRAM or ReRAM (resistive RAM)

    RRAM or ReRAM (resistive random access memory) is a form of nonvolatile storage that operates by changing the resistance of a ...

  • JEDEC

    JEDEC is a global industry group that develops open standards for microelectronics.

SearchCloudStorage

  • Google Cloud Storage

    Google Cloud Storage is an enterprise public cloud storage platform that can house large unstructured data sets.

  • 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 ...

Close