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Old 07-25-2007   #2
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The Mesoamerican Long Count calendar developed in south-central Mexico required the use of zero as a place-holder within its vigesimal (base-20) positional numeral system. A shell glyph was used as a zero symbol for these Long Count dates, the earliest of which (on Stela 2 at Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapas) has a date of 36 BCE. Since the eight earliest Long Count dates appear outside the Maya homeland, it is assumed that the use of zero in the Americas predated the Maya and was possibly the invention of the Olmecs. Indeed, many of the earliest Long Count dates were found within the Olmec heartland, although the fact that the Olmec civilization had come to an end by the 4th century BCE, several centuries before the earliest known Long Count dates, argues against the zero being an Olmec discovery.Although zero became an integral part of Maya numerals, it of course did not influence Old World numeral systems.By 130, 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. Because it was used alone, not just as a placeholder, this Hellenistic zero was perhaps the first documented use of a number zero in the Old World. However, the positions were usually limited to the fractional part of a number (called minutes, seconds, thirds, fourths, etc.)—they were not used for the integral part of a number. In later Byzantine manuscripts of his Syntaxis Mathematica (Almagest), the Hellenistic zero had morphed into the Greek letter omicron (otherwise meaning 70).Another zero was used in tables alongside Roman numerals by 525 (first known use by Dionysius Exiguus), but as a word, nulla meaning nothing, not as a symbol. When division produced zero as a remainder, nihil, also meaning nothing, was used. These medieval zeros were used by all future medieval computists (calculators of Easter). An isolated use of their initial, N, was used in a table of Roman numerals by Bede or a colleague about 725, a zero symbol.In 498 CE, Indian mathematician and astronomer Aryabhata stated that "Sthanam sthanam dasa gunam" or place to place in ten times in value, which may be the origin of the modern decimal based place value notation.The oldest known text to use zero is the Jain text from India entitled the Lokavibhaaga, dated 458 CE. it was first introduced to the world centuries later by Al-Khwarizmi, a Persian mathematician, astronomer and geographer[citation needed]. He was the founder of several branches and basic concepts of mathematics. In the words of Philip Hitti, Al Khawarizmi's contribution to mathematics influenced mathematical thought to a greater extent. His work on algebra initiated the subject in a systematic form and also developed it to the extent of giving ****ytical solutions of linear and quadratic equations, which established him as the founder of Algebra. The very name Algebra has been derived from his famous book Al-Jabr wa-al-Muqabilah.His arithmetic synthesized Greek and Hindu knowledge and also contained his own contribution of fundamental importance to mathematics and science. Thus, he explained the use of zero, a numeral of fundamental importance developed by the Indians. And 'algorithm' or 'algorizm' is named after him.The first apparent appearance of a symbol for zero appears in 876 in India on a stone tablet in Gwalior. Documents on copper plates, with the same small o in them, dated back as far as the sixth century CE, abound.