Abstract / Synopsis

Zero has (a) special role(s) in mathematics. In the current century, we take negative numbers and zero for granted, but we should also be aware that their acceptance and their emergence in mathematics, and their ubiquity today, have not come to happen as rapidly as, for example, that of natural numbers. Students can quickly become confused by the question: is zero a natural number? The answer is simple: a matter of definition. The history of zero and that of negative numbers are closely linked. It was in the calculations of debts that the negative numbers first appeared, where the state of balance between positive and negative assets was also given. We now take them for granted, but the history of science shows that it was far from a smooth process, and interesting mistakes about zero still occur in education today. I present a few examples below, and how they have been resolved.



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