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Table of Contents    
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 67  |  Issue : 8  |  Page : 228-229

The concept of ‘zero’

Date of Web Publication24-May-2019

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How to cite this article:
. The concept of ‘zero’. Neurol India 2019;67, Suppl S2:228-9

How to cite this URL:
. The concept of ‘zero’. Neurol India [serial online] 2019 [cited 2023 Sep 23];67, Suppl S2:228-9. Available from:

This photograph has been contributed by Dr. Avinash Sharma, Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, Gajra Raja Medical College, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh.

The symbol 'zero' is a key concept of the digital world that defines 'absence of a quantity.' It is said that the concept was derived from the Sanskrit word for 'zero', 'sunya', which means "a void." This philosophical concept of 'nothingness' or 'emptying one's mind of all thoughts' has perhaps helped to establish 'zero' as a mathematical symbol that has significantly eased the performance of mathematical calculations. The concept of 'zero' serves as the basis for the development of calculus, geometry and the Cartesian coordinate system (which serves as the foundation for defining a three-dimensional point in space). The introduction of 'zero' is regarded as one of the greatest discoveries in mathematics, upon which the entire subjects of physics, engineering, architecture, computer science and space exploration are based. This concept is so fundamentally influencing every gamut of modern life that one does not realize its astounding role in all activities of daily living.

The Chaturbhuj Temple is excavated in a rock face in the Gwalior Fort, Madhya Pradesh, India. On a wall of this temple is a plaque, which dates back to the 9th century. The plaque on the temple wall mentions a land grant of 270 hastas (a unit of measure used for land) for a flower garden as well as a daily grant of 50 flower garlands in Arabic language. The circular symbol that we know of as 'zero' appears in '270' as well as '50'.

This is considered one of the earliest representations of the number 'zero' in the world! While few local tourists venture into this temple, mathematics enthusiasts from across the globe have been flocking this place for years.


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