The rules governing the use of zero appeared for the first time in Brahmagupta's Brahmasputha Siddhanta (7th century). This work considers not only zero, but also negative numbers and the algebraic rules for the elementary operations of arithmetic with such numbers.(from Wiki)

question: Why was the zero not discovered long ago or in the beginning?

Why zero (mathematics), gravity (physics), general relativity (physics) is very difficult to observe and if someone discover such types of things(foundation), those people, we call them genius?

  • The symbol for zero was invented and this fact allowed the invention of positional number systems(the current one) that was far more "efficient" in supporting computing compared to e.g. the ancient Roman numeral system. Feb 20, 2020 at 7:15
  • Why we call "genius" people who discovered/invented "difficult things" ? Because the things discovered produce significant improvements in knowledge, technique, society, etc. Feb 20, 2020 at 7:17
  • First, this is a wrong site for this question. Second, the concept developed in stages, and there were predecessors to the modern version expressed by Bahmagupta long before him, see History of Zero. And third, even "geniuses" can discover something only when the conditions are in place for it. The "bursts of genius" version of history is no longer taken seriously.
    – Conifold
    Feb 20, 2020 at 8:10
  • 2
    See in MSE the post Discovery of zero as well as When was zero actually introduced in mathematics? Feb 20, 2020 at 8:16
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it would be better served on History of Science and Mathematics. It's a great question and philosophical at its core, but is firmly planted within the history of mathematical thinking, and that sight will more likely have people who have thought about this particular problem.
    – Mitch
    Feb 20, 2020 at 17:26

1 Answer 1


The status of zero has always been a source of philosophical dispute. There seems to have been an incremental process towards understanding it's importance & usefulness. Modern use seems to have been established by the time of Ptolemy's very influential work on astronomy, 130AD. The earliest notation for zero was in Ancient Egypt,1330BC. The Ancient Greeks generally object to treating zero as a number, slowing down mathematical developments. And Romans deeply objected to it's use in accounting, such that Roman numerals were still used in accounting in some places in the 1800s.

I go with this discussion of Indian Mathematics, that Jain and Buddhist philosophical ideas made a more receptive audience to treating zero as a number (and to contemplating infinities, an even more contentious area). 'Arabic' numerals which introduced zero to the West more widely, are from India.

As to why not earlier. Professional mathematics has arisen, for astronomy (ancient Britain, ancient Turkey), for constructing altars and temples (those previous two, and Hinduism and Judaism), for accounting (Egypt, Babylon, China, South America), and as part of a kind of 'philosophical theatre' (Ancient Greece). Probably a certain level of accounting is the basis for supporting a culture of maths, and religious and philosophical society the basis for expanding it beyond practical concerns.

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