AskDefine | Define zero

The Collaborative Dictionary

Zero \Ze"ro\, n.; pl. Zerosor Zeroes. [F. z['e]ro, from Ar. [,c]afrun, [,c]ifrun, empty, a cipher. Cf. Cipher.] [1913 Webster]
(Arith.) A cipher; nothing; naught. [1913 Webster]
The point from which the graduation of a scale, as of a thermometer, commences. [1913 Webster] Note: Zero in the Centigrade, or Celsius thermometer, and in the R['e]aumur thermometer, is at the point at which water congeals. The zero of the Fahrenheit thermometer is fixed at the point at which the mercury stands when immersed in a mixture of snow and common salt. In Wedgwood's pyrometer, the zero corresponds with 1077[deg] on the Fahrenheit scale. See Illust. of Thermometer. [1913 Webster]
Fig.: The lowest point; the point of exhaustion; as, his patience had nearly reached zero. [1913 Webster] Absolute zero. See under Absolute. Zero method (Physics), a method of comparing, or measuring, forces, electric currents, etc., by so opposing them that the pointer of an indicating apparatus, or the needle of a galvanometer, remains at, or is brought to, zero, as contrasted with methods in which the deflection is observed directly; -- called also null method. Zero point, the point indicating zero, or the commencement of a scale or reckoning. [1913 Webster] [1913 Webster]

Word Net

zero adj
1 indicating the absence of any or all units under consideration; "a zero score" [syn: 0]
2 indicating an initial point or origin
3 of or relating to the null set (a set with no members)
4 having no measurable or otherwise determinable value; "the goal is zero population growth" [syn: zero(a)]

Noun

1 a quantity of no importance; "it looked like nothing I had ever seen before"; "reduced to nil all the work we had done"; "we racked up a pathetic goose egg"; "it was all for naught"; "I didn't hear zilch about it" [syn: nothing, nil, nix, nada, null, aught, cipher, cypher, goose egg, naught, zilch, zip]
2 a mathematical element that when added to another number yields the same number [syn: 0, nought, cipher, cypher]
3 the quantity that registers a reading of zero on a scale [syn: zero point]

Verb

1 adjust (an instrument or device) to zero value
2 adjust (as by firing under test conditions) the zero of (a gun); "He zeroed in his rifle at 200 yards" [syn: zero in] [also: zeroes (pl)]

Moby Thesaurus

absolute zero, aught, blank, boiling point, cipher, concentrate on, dew point, duck, dud, dummy, fix on, focus on, freezing point, goose egg, hollow man, home in on, insignificancy, jackstraw, lay figure, man of straw, melting point, nada, nadir, naught, nebbish, nichts, nihil, nil, nix, no such thing, nobody, nonentity, nothing, nothing at all, nothing on earth, nothing whatever, nought, null, nullity, pinpoint, puppet, pushover, recalescence point, rock bottom, temperature, thing of naught, trifle, void, whiffet, whippersnapper, zero in on, zilch

English

Etymology

From zéro, from zero, from zephirum, from صفر.

Pronunciation

  • , /ˈziːrəʊ/, /"zi:r@U/
  • a RP /ˈzɪərəʊ/, /"zI@r@U/
  • Rhymes with: -ɪərəʊ

Cardinal number

zero
  1. The cardinal number occurring before one and that denotes no quantity or amount at all, represented in Arabic numerals as 0.
    The conductor waited until the passenger count was zero.
    A cheque for zero dollars and zero cents crashed the computers on division by zero.

Usage notes

In an adjectival sense, used with the plural of a countable noun:
I have zero dollars and zero food.

Synonyms

Related terms

Translations

cardinal number before one, denoting nothing

Noun

  1. The numeric symbol that represents the cardinal number zero.
    In unary and k-adic notation in general, zero is the empty string.
    Write 0.0 to indicate a floating point rather than the integer zero.
    The zero sign in American Sign Language is considered rude in some cultures.
  2. The digit 0 in the decimal, binary, and all other base numbering systems.
    One million has six zeros.
  3. In the context of "informal|uncountable": Nothing; nought; an amount or degree that is for practical purposes irrelevant.
    The shipment was lost, so they had zero in stock.
    He knows zero about humor.
    In the end, all our hard work amounted to zero.
  4. A zero value of a magnitude.
    The electromagnetic field does not drop all the way to zero before a reversal.
  5. A point on a scale at which numbering or measurement originates.
    The temperature outside is ten degrees below zero.
  6. A value of a function’s independent variables for which the function is equal to zero.
    The zeros of a polynomial are its roots by the fundamental theorem of algebra.
    The derivative of a continuous, differentiable function that twice crosses the axis must have a zero.
    The nontrivial zeros of the Riemann zeta function may all lie on the critical line.
  7. The additive identity element of a monoid or greater algebraic structure, particularly a group or ring.
    Since a commutative zero is the inverse of any additive identity, it must be unique when it exists.
    The quotient ring over a maximal ideal is a field with a single zero element.
  8. A person of little or no importance.
    They rudely treated him like a zero.
  9. A plane flown by a Japanese kamikaze in WWII.
  10. A setting of calibrated instruments such as a firearm.

Translations

numeric symbol of zero
digit zero
  • Danish: nul
  • Finnish: nolla
  • German: Null
  • Kurdish: sifir
  • Latvian: nulle
  • Norwegian: null
  • Sindhi: (buri)
  • Slovene: ničla
  • Swedish: nolla
  • Tatar: ноль, nol
irrelevant amount
zero value of a magnitude
point of origin on a scale
value of a function’s independent variables when the value of the function is zero
identity element of a monoid
person of little importance
setting of a firearm

Derived terms

Adjective

  1. For all practical purposes irrelevant. Usage: zero + noun.
    She showed zero respect.
  2. Of a cloud ceiling, limiting vision to 50 feet (15 meters) or less.
  3. Of horizontal visibility, limited to 165 feet (50.3 meters) or less.
  4. Present at an abstract level but not realized in the data.
    The stem of "kobieta" with the zero ending is "kobiet".

Synonyms

Translations

informal'': for all practical purposes irrelevant
meteorology: of a cloud ceiling: limiting vision to 50 feet (15 meters) or less
  • Kurdish: sifir
meteorology: of horizontal visibility: limited to 165 feet (50.3 meters) or less
  • Kurdish: sifir
linguistics: present at an abstract level but not realized in the data

Verb

  1. To set a measuring instrument to zero; to calibrate instrument scale to valid zero.
    Zero the fluorometer with the same solvent used in extraction.
  2. In the context of "transitive|computing": To change a memory location or range to values of zero; to set a variable in a computer program to zero.
    Results were inconsistent because an array wasn’t zeroed during initialization.
  3. To cause or set some value or amount to be zero.
    They tried to zero the budget by the end of the quarter.

Translations

to set to zero
to cause or set some value or amount to be zero

Derived terms

Catalan

Noun

zero

Derived terms

  • ser un zero a l’esquerra (to be a zero on left side) = to have no value, to be worthless (used for people)

Italian

Cardinal number

zero

Noun

  1. zero (number, numeral)

Japanese

Romaji

zero
  1. zero, cipher, naught, nothing

Kurdish

Etymology

Compounded from zer + .

Noun

zero
  1. yellow gloss Kurdish
  2. blond (male person)

See also

Portuguese

Pronunciation

  • (Brazil) /ˈzɛru/

Cardinal number

zero

Noun

zero

Romanian

Etymology

zéro

Cardinal number

zero
0 (zero) is both a number and the numerical digit used to represent that number in numerals. It plays a central role in mathematics as the additive identity of the integers, real numbers, and many other algebraic structures. As a digit, zero is used as a placeholder in place value systems. In the English language, zero may also be called null or nil when a number, "oh" (), "goose egg", or cipher (archaic) when a numeral, and nought or naught in either context.

0 as a number

0 is the integer preceding 1. In most systems, 0 was identified before the idea of 'negative integers' was accepted. Zero is an even number. 0 is neither positive nor negative.
Zero is a number which quantifies a count or an amount of null size; that is, if the number of your brothers is zero, that means the same thing as having no brothers, and if something has a weight of zero, it has no weight. If the difference between the number of pieces in two piles is zero, it means the two piles have an equal number of pieces. Before counting starts, the result can be assumed to be zero; that is the number of items counted before you count the first item and counting the first item brings the result to one. And if there are no items to be counted, zero remains the final result.
Almost all historians omit the year zero from the proleptic Gregorian and Julian calendars, but astronomers include it in these same calendars. However, the phrase Year Zero may be used to describe any event considered so significant that it serves as a new base point in time.

0 as a digit

The modern numerical digit 0 is usually written as a circle, an ellipse, or a rounded rectangle. In most modern typefaces, the height of the 0 character is the same as the other digits. However, in typefaces with text figures, the character is often less tall (x-height).
On the seven-segment displays of calculators, watches, and household appliances, 0 is usually written with six line segments, though on some historical calculator models it was written with four line segments.
The value, or number, zero is not the same as the digit zero, used in numeral systems using positional notation. Successive positions of digits have higher weights, so inside a numeral the digit zero is used to skip a position and give appropriate weights to the preceding and following digits. A zero digit is not always necessary in a positional number system, for example, in the number 02.

Distinguishing the digit 0 from the letter O

Traditionally, standard typewriters made no distinction in shape between the letter O and the digit 0; some models did not even have a separate key for the digit 0. The oval (i.e. narrower) digit 0 and more nearly circular letter O together came into prominence on modern character displays, though the distinction was already present in some print typefaces.
The digit 0 with a dot in the centre seems to have originated as an option on IBM 3270 displays. Its appearance has continued with the Windows typeface Andalé Mono. One variation used a short vertical bar instead of the dot. This could be confused with the Greek letter Theta on a badly focused display, but in practice there was no confusion because theta was not (then) a displayable character.
An alternative, the slashed zero (looking similar to the letter O other than the slash), was primarily used in hand-written coding sheets before transcription to punched cards or tape, and is also used in old-style ASCII graphic sets descended from the default typewheel on the ASR-33 Teletype. This form is similar to the symbol \emptyset, or "∅" (Unicode character U+2205), representing the empty set, as well as to the letter Ø used in several Scandinavian languages. The convention that has the letter O with a slash and the digit 0 without was advocated by SHARE, a prominent IBM user group, and by a few other early mainframe makers; this is even more problematic for Scandinavians because it means two of their letters collide. Others advocated the opposite convention, The Italian mathematician Fibonacci (c.1170-1250), who grew up in Arab North Africa and is credited with introducing the Hindu decimal system to Europe, used the term zephyrum. This became zefiro in Italian, which was contracted to zero in Venetian, the modern English word.
As the Hindu decimal zero and its new mathematics spread from the Arab world to Europe in the Middle Ages, words derived from sifr and zephyrus came to refer to calculation, as well as to privileged knowledge and secret codes. According to Ifrah, "in thirteenth-century Paris, a 'worthless fellow' was called a "... cifre en algorisme", i.e., an "arithmetical nothing"."
The Babylonian placeholder was not a true zero because it was not used alone. Nor was it used at the end of a number. Thus numbers like 2 and 120 (2×60), 3 and 180 (3×60), 4 and 240 (4×60), looked the same because the larger numbers lacked a final sexagesimal placeholder. Only context could differentiate them.
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.
The Indian scholar Pingala (circa 5th-2nd century BC) used binary numbers in the form of short and long syllables (the latter equal in length to two short syllables), making it similar to Morse code. He and his contemporary Indian scholars used the Sanskrit word śūnya to refer to zero or void.

History of zero

The use of a blank on a counting board to represent 0 dated back in India to 4th century BC. 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. Many different glyphs, including this partial quatrefoil—
  • In some countries, dialling 0 on a telephone places a call for operator assistance.
  • In Braille, the numeral 0 has the same dot configuration as the letter J.
  • DVDs that can be played in any region are sometimes referred to as being "region 0"
  • In classical music, 0 is very rarely used as a number for a composition: Anton Bruckner wrote a Symphony No. 0 in D minor and a Symphony No. 00; Alfred Schnittke also wrote a Symphony No. 0.
  • Roulette wheels usually feature a "0" space (and sometimes also a "00" space), whose presence is ignored when calculating payoffs (thereby allowing the house to win in the long run).
  • A chronological prequel of a series may be numbered as 0.
  • In Formula One, if the reigning World Champion no longer competes in Formula One in the year following their victory in the title race, 0 is given to one of the drivers of the team that the reigning champion won the title with. This happened in 1993 and 1994, with Damon Hill driving car 0, due to the reigning World Champion (Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost respectively) not competing in the championship.
  • In the educational series Schoolhouse Rock!, the song My Hero, Zero is about the use of zero as a placeholder. The song explains that by appending zeroes to a number, it is multiplied by 10 for each one added. This enables mathematicians to create numbers as large as needed.

Quotations

The importance of the creation of the zero mark can never be exaggerated. This giving to airy nothing, not merely a local habitation and a name, a picture, a symbol, but helpful power, is the characteristic of the Hindu race from whence it sprang. It is like coining the Nirvana into dynamos. No single mathematical creation has been more potent for the general on-go of intelligence and power. G.B. Halsted
Dividing by zero...allows you to prove, mathematically, anything in the universe. You can prove that 1+1=42, and from there you can prove that J. Edgar Hoover is a space alien, that William Shakespeare came from Uzbekistan, or even that the sky is polka-dotted. (See appendix A for a proof that Winston Churchill was a carrot.) Charles Seife, from: Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
...a profound and important idea which appears so simple to us now that we ignore its true merit. But its very simplicity and the great ease which it lent to all computations put our arithmetic in the first rank of useful inventions. Pierre-Simon Laplace
The point about zero is that we do not need to use it in the operations of daily life. No one goes out to buy zero fish. It is in a way the most civilized of all the cardinals, and its use is only forced on us by the needs of cultivated modes of thought. Alfred North Whitehead
...a fine and wonderful refuge of the divine spirit--almost an amphibian between being and non-being. Gottfried Leibniz

Notes

References

  • Barrow, John D. (2001) The Book of Nothing, Vintage. ISBN 0-09-928845-1.
  • Diehl, Richard A. (2004) The Olmecs: America's First Civilization, Thames & Hudson, London.
  • Ifrah, Georges (2000) The Universal History of Numbers: From Prehistory to the Invention of the Computer, Wiley. ISBN 0-471-39340-1.
  • Kaplan, Robert (2000) The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Seife, Charles (2000) Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea, Penguin USA (Paper). ISBN 0-14-029647-6.

See also

zero in Arabic: 0 (عدد)
zero in Bulgarian: Нула
zero in Catalan: Zero
zero in Czech: Nula
zero in Danish: 0 (tal)
zero in German: Null
zero in Estonian: Null
zero in Modern Greek (1453-): Μηδέν
zero in Spanish: Cero
zero in Esperanto: Nulo
zero in Basque: Zero
zero in Persian: ۰ (عدد)
zero in French: Zéro
zero in Friulian: 0 (numar)
zero in Galician: Cero
zero in Korean: 0
zero in Hindi: शून्य
zero in Ido: Zero
zero in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): 0 (numero)
zero in Xhosa: Iqanda
zero in Icelandic: Núll
zero in Italian: Zero
zero in Hebrew: 0 (מספר)
zero in Georgian: ნული
zero in Kinyarwanda: Obusa
zero in Haitian: 0 (nonm)
zero in Kurdish: Sifir (hejmar)
zero in Latin: 0
zero in Latvian: Nulle
zero in Lithuanian: 0 (skaičius)
zero in Lombard: Nümar 0
zero in Hungarian: 0 (szám)
zero in Malayalam: പൂജ്യം
zero in Malay (macrolanguage): 0 (nombor)
zero in Dutch: 0 (getal)
zero in Dutch Low Saxon: 0 (getal)
zero in Newari: शून्य
zero in Japanese: 0
zero in Norwegian: Null
zero in Norwegian Nynorsk: 0
zero in Polish: 0 (liczba)
zero in Portuguese: Zero
zero in Romanian: 0 (cifră)
zero in Quechua: Ch'usaq yupay
zero in Russian: 0 (число)
zero in Simple English: Zero
zero in Slovak: 0 (číslo)
zero in Slovenian: 0
zero in Serbian: 0 (број)
zero in Finnish: 0 (luku)
zero in Swedish: 0 (tal)
zero in Tagalog: 0 (bilang)
zero in Telugu: సున్న
zero in Thai: 0
zero in Vietnamese: 0
zero in Turkish: Sıfır
zero in Ukrainian: 0 (число)
zero in Vlaams: 0 (getal)
zero in Wolof: Tus
zero in Yiddish: 0 (נומער)
zero in Contenese: 0
zero in Chinese: 0
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