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that number which, when added to any number, leaves the latter unchanged; its symbol is 0. The introduction of zero into the decimal systemdecimal system
[Lat.,=of tenths], numeration system based on powers of 10. A number is written as a row of digits, with each position in the row corresponding to a certain power of 10.
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 was the most significant achievement in the development of a number system in which calculation with large numbers was feasible. Without it, modern astronomy, physics, and chemistry would have been unthinkable as we know them. The lack of such a symbol was one of the serious drawbacks of Greek mathematics. Its existence in the West is probably due to the Arabs, who, having obtained it from India, passed it on to European mathematicians in the latter part of the Middle Ages. The Maya of Central America and probably the Babylonians also invented zero, but they used the symbol as a placeholder rather than a true number; the Indians were the first to used zero as a number.

With the extension of the number system to negative as well as positive numbers, zero became the name for that position on the scale of integers between −1 and +1. It is used in this sense in speaking of zero degrees on the Fahrenheit and Celsius temperature scales; "absolute zero" is a term used by physicists and chemists to indicate the theoretically lowest possible temperature—a use reminiscent of zero as a symbol for nothing.

Unlike other numbers, zero has certain special properties in connection with the four fundamental operations. By definition zero added to or subtracted from any number leaves the number unchanged. Any number multiplied by zero gives zero. Zero multiplied by or divided by any number (other than zero) is still zero. But division by zero is undefined; i.e., there is no number that is the value of a number divided by zero.


See C. Seife, Zero (2000).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a number with the property that any number added to it does not change. Zero is designated by the symbol 0. The product of zero and any number is equal to zero:

a · 0 = 0 · a = 0

If the product of two real or complex numbers is equal to zero, then one of the factors must be equal to zero; that is, it follows from ab = 0 that a = 0 or b= 0. Division by zero is impossible.

In mathematics there is used the concept of the zero of an aggregate of elements, for example, the zero of a group, a ring, or a field. In a commutative group with addition, the zero is the element 0 for which a + 0 = 0 + a = a, where a is any element of the group. In a ring, zero is defined in the same way. The equality a · 0 = 0 · a = 0 is always satisfied in a ring. If the product of two elements in a ring is equal to zero, it does not necessarily follow that one of the factors is equal to zero; if ab = 0 and a ≠ 0 and b ≠ 0, then the elements a and b are called divisors of zero.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about a zero?

The zero carries the same connotations as the circle. It suggests infinity and the eternal unknown, as well as life’s ultimate mysteries. It also suggests completeness—the dreamer may have come to a spiritual wholeness within.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


The additive identity element of an algebraic system.
Any point where a given function assumes the value zero.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


army private whose name and IQ are almost equivalent. [Comics: “Beetle Bailey” in Horn, 105–106]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. the symbol 0, indicating an absence of quantity or magnitude; nought
2. the integer denoted by the symbol 0; nought
3. the cardinal number between +1 and --1
a. the temperature, pressure, etc., that registers a reading of zero on a scale
b. the value of a variable, such as temperature, obtained under specified conditions
5. Maths
a. the cardinal number of a set with no members
b. the identity element of addition
6. Meteorol
a. (of a cloud ceiling) limiting visibility to 15 metres (50 feet) or less
b. (of horizontal visibility) limited to 50 metres (165 feet) or less
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


An object oriented extension of Z.

["Object Orientation in Z", S. Stepney et al eds, Springer 1992].


1. <character> 0, ASCI character 48. Numeric zero, as opposed to the letter "O" (the 15th letter of the English alphabet). In their unmodified forms they look a lot alike, and various kluges invented to make them visually distinct have compounded the confusion.

If your zero is centre-dotted and letter-O is not, or if letter-O looks almost rectangular but zero looks more like an American football stood on end (or the reverse), you're probably looking at a modern character display (though the dotted zero seems to have originated as an option on IBM 3270 controllers). If your zero is slashed but letter-O is not, you're probably looking at an old-style ASCII graphic set descended from the default typewheel on the venerable ASR-33 Teletype (Scandinavians, for whom slashed-O is a letter, curse this arrangement).

If letter-O has a slash across it and the zero does not, your display is tuned for a very old convention used at IBM and a few other early mainframe makers (Scandinavians curse *this* arrangement even more, because it means two of their letters collide). Some Burroughs/Unisys equipment displays a zero with a *reversed* slash. And yet another convention common on early line printers left zero unornamented but added a tail or hook to the letter-O so that it resembled an inverted Q or cursive capital letter-O.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


Please refer to the definition of numbers, and remember that zero means none, no balance, and has no positive or negative charge. The zero can also have the same meaning as a circle. The circle symbolizes infinity, completeness, and wholeness, the circle of life and the eternal unknown. You the dreamer may have come to a greater degree of spiritual awareness, and the dream could be spiritual in nature. However, as always, examine all of the details in the dream, as well as its tone and mood, and rule out the possibility of “going in circles” as the primary message in the dream.
Bedside Dream Dictionary by Silvana Amar Copyright © 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.