islam , romans and zero [maths]

Islamic world

The Arabic-language inheritance of science was largely Greek,[30] followed by Hindu influences.[31] In 773, at Al-Mansur‘s behest, translations were made of many ancient treatises including Greek, Latin, Indian, and others.

In 813 AD astronomical tables were prepared by Persian al-Khwarizmi using Hindu numerals,[31] and about 825 AD, he published a book synthesizing Greek and Hindu knowledge and also contained his own contribution to mathematics including an explanation of the use of zero.[32] This book was later translated into Latin in the 12th century under the title Algoritmi de numero Indorum. This title means “al-Khwarizmi on the Numerals of the Indians”. The word “Algoritmi” was the translator’s Latinization of Al-Khwarizmi’s name, and the word “Algorithm” or “Algorism” started meaning any arithmetic based on decimals.[31]

Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Khwarizmi, in 976 AD, stated that if no number appears in the place of tens in a calculation, a little circle should be used “to keep the rows”. This circle was called ṣifr.[33]

Greeks and Romans

Records show that the ancient Greeks seemed unsure about the status of zero as a number. They asked themselves, “How can nothing be something?”, leading to philosophical and, by the Medieval period, religious arguments about the nature and existence of zero and the vacuum. The paradoxes of Zeno of Elea depend in large part on the uncertain interpretation of zero.

By 130 AD, Ptolemy, influenced by Hipparchus and the Babylonians, was using a symbol for zero (a small circle with a long overbar) within a sexagesimal numeral system otherwise using alphabetic Greek numerals.



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