The Intriguing Invention of “Zero” and “One”

By Dato' Dr. Ooi Kee Beng

November 2021 EDITORIAL
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ZEROES AND ONES fill our world today. The binary code that powers our computers could of course have been signified by other, even arbitrary, symbols, but they are not. Instead, they are based on Zeros and Ones. But what is “O”, and what is “1”?Imagining ZeroI am no historian of mathematics, let alone a mathematician. But it has always fascinated me how the notion of “Zero”, which appears to us today to be an intuition, actually had to be invented,...

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Dato' Dr. Ooi Kee Beng

is the Executive Director of Penang Institute. His recent books include The Eurasian Core and its Edges: Dialogues with Wang Gungwu on the History of the World (ISEAS 2016). Homepage: