The nothing that is a natural history of zero by robert kaplan is a look at what is perhaps the most significant creations and advances ever made in mathematics imagine trying to calculate using roman numerals or any system that did not have columns and its significance doesnt end there as it is critical in dealing with negative numbers . Robert and ellen kaplan have taught mathematics to people from six to sixty at leading independent schools and most recently at harvard university robert kaplan is the author of the best selling the nothing that is a natural history of zero which has been translated into 10 languages and together they wrote the art of the infinite. Librarything review user review wassilissa librarything robert kaplans the nothing that is a natural history of zero begins as a mystery story taking us back to sumerian times and then to greece and india piecing together the way the idea of a symbol . Its difficult to classify robert kaplans the nothing that is a natural history of zeroyou could describe this book simply as a rather nice history of the number zero you could also describe it as nothing less than a history of the human races philosophical struggle with the idea of nothingness. For kaplan the history of zero is a lens for looking not only into the evolution of mathematics but into very nature of human thought he points out how the history of mathematics is a process of recursive abstraction how once a symbol is created to represent an idea that symbol itself gives rise to new operations that in turn lead to new ideas
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