India’s contribution to the world is ……………………..
BIG FAT ZERO!
Haha (wink wink)
Yes, I am talking about the digit 0. Zero or shunya is a contribution of India to the world of Mathematics.
You are welcome, world!
Don’t underestimate the “nothing” 😀
So, coming to the question…… Why is zero so important to Mathematics? After all it is “nothing!”
I will try and explain in a simple way.
We have 10 fingers. So counting starts with 1 and goes up to 10. Then after that we go into multiples of 10. That is called base of 10. We understand this better than other bases.
In mathematics, there are base of 2, 8 and 16 too, but the base 10 is the easiest to understand and most prevalent. The other bases are used for highly scientific purposes only.
The concept of numbers went from India to the Arabic nations from there it spread all across Europe. Since the numerals came to the western world from Arabia, the westerners called them Hindu-Arabic numerals.
The Roman counting system start with 1. As you are all so familiar with it, I am not delving deep into it. As a recap, I is 1, V is 5, X is ten, L is 50, C is 100, M is 1000. But I want to emphasize the absence of a representation of zero in the Roman numerals. This created many problems while representing very large numbers. Even representing small numbers is a bit confusing. For example, IV is 4, meaning remove 1 from 5, VI is 6, that is add 1 to 5. That means, writing a number to the left of a main number means subtracting from the main one and writing to the right of it, signifies addition. So far so good? Now see, 49 is XLIX. 50-10 tens and a 10-1. Got it? In my childhood, I used to wonder why I could not write simply IL, that is 50-1. My teacher never explained! Later I understood that each digit in the given number must be represented individually. Imagine if you have to write a 9-10 digit number in roman numerals! You would be writing a sentence! LOL
That is why the European mathematicians heaved a sigh of relief with the Hindu-Arabic numerals.
Zero gives any number its place value. Think of a number.
For example, 4509.3
Now, here, the digit 0 in the given number is in the 10th place value. The digit 5 is in the 100th place value and so on. Adding more zeros after 4 to the left of it or adding more zeroes to the right of 3, does not change the value of the number.
But adding even one zero to the left of the decimal and even one zero to the right of the decimal point will alter the given number completely.
That is one of the contributions of zero.
Zero is the reason why human mind expanded.
Let me explain.
Zero allowed us to think of numbers that went on the other side of the number line.
…………….-3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3 …………………….
Zero was like the pivot that held the negative numbers and positive numbers on a balance. The set of both negative and positive numbers makes up the set of Integers.
The study of Integers led us to study irrational numbers thus our world expanded. From there Mathematics grew wings and Calculus also developed.
The exponential representation of any integer owes its existence to zero. The astrophysics field of study with all the distances measured between galaxies and what not are expressed in exponents.
The concept of NULL set also arises from understanding of zero. This leads to the entire study of algebra and eventually the entire computer software industry.
Zero may seem insignificant in terms of its value, but its contribution to humanity is immeasurable.