We all have read in school that Aryabhatta invented the number Zero but that is only partially true. The number has a huge history before it was first used to solve equations. It is found that 0 has traveled through three different places- Babylon, Mayan and India. All the subjects of science have found a clearer definitions and answer to the equations with the invention of the digit 0.

**The root of Zero**

In Babylon, around 700 B.C, the Sumerian scribes used two hooks symbol which represented absence in number columns. They were the first to invent the space value system. The idea was of denoting an empty space. However, they never developed the concept of using zero as a number.

Six hundred years later, around 350 A.D, the Mayans used zero as a place holder in their calendar system. Their symbol of 0 looked like an eye. However, they never used the number to solve equations despite of being skilled mathematicians.

**The symbol 0**

An Indian astronomer and mathematician Brahmagupta developed the symbol “0”. He also operated it mathematically in his text. Brahmagupta’s “Brahmasphuta Siddhanta” was one of the earliest text to treat zero as a number rather than just a place holder like the others did. He also developed basic mathematical rules to carry out addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

**The Zero Philosophy**

The concept of 0 was derived in India from a Sanskrit word “Shunya” which means null or void. The numeral use of zero in mathematical equations was carried out on this philosophy.

**Aryabhatta’s Zero**

Aryabhatta, a well-known mathematician and astronomer, used the concept of 0 to define the decimal system. He certainly did not use the symbol but used a dot to define empty space in positional notation in his manuscripts. According to French mathematician Georges Ifrah, the knowledge of zero was implicit in Aryabhatta’s place value system as a place holder for the powers of ten with null coefficients. He also discovered the value of Pi correct to 4 decimal places.

Aryabhatta’s contribution in the field of mathematics and astronomy was huge through his famous works like “Aryabhatta Siddhanta” and “Aryabhatiya”. Through his text Aryabhatiya, he covered arithmetic, algebra, continued fractions, quadratic equations, sums of power series and a table of sines, plane trigonometry and spherical trigonometry which is the greatest contribution to the branch of mathematics. This is why it is said that his greatest contribution has been zero.

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