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, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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