Mission & Vision

Human beings have been counting for tens of thousands of years. But it is only within past millennia that mathematics proper has been practiced in advanced civilizations.

Place-value systems, including base-10, base-20, base-60 and others, are found early on, with or without a zero placeholder, that is, a symbol to represent the absence of a digit in a number. Numeration systems with a placeholder zero were in use for hundreds of years without the symbol representing zero being used as actual numeral in its own right.

It is widely agreed that the use of the zero digit not only as placeholder but also as fully-fledged numeral alongside the other numerals was an unrivaled innovation that revolutionized mathematics, science and technology. It is stating the obvious to note that practically all nations on Earth have since adopted the decimal system including zero, while few people today are aware where the numbers they use daily came from.

And while there is general agreement among scholars that the decimal system ubiquitously in use today hails from India, reaching medieval Europe via the Arabs, there is no consensus as to whether or not the zero digit was an indigenous South Asian invention or whether it was ‘imported’ – either from points further to the West or the East.

Thus there is much conjecture and controversy surrounding the emergence of the zero digit as numeral and to this day it has never been incontrovertibly established precisely where and when or in what cultural context the zero digit first appeared, let alone who the individual was to be credited with its invention – which has been ranked among mankind’s greatest intellectual feats.

All scholarly books and articles on the subject continually refer to certain basic facts known about the possible origin of the zero digit without making mention of any recent or on-going research on the subject. To date the ZerOrigIndia Foundation has not been able to establish whether at present there are any research teams devoted to finding any fresh evidence that may shed light on the issue.

It is against that background that the ZerOrigIndia Foundation, which restricts its scope to India, has set itself the task of having a properly staffed and funded multidisciplinary research team of experts take up the challenge of answering the question as to when and where the zero digit first appeared, and if possible to pinpoint the prevailing cultural conditions under which the individual thrived, who made this astounding contribution to progress.

So as not to prejudice the outcome, other research teams are encouraged to investigate worldwide any viable leads irrespective of historical claims made as to the origin of the zero digit. It is only by examining all the earlier evidence in light of any fresh evidence to be found that the answer to the question as to the origin of the zero digit may satisfactorily be answered.

There are still tens of thousands of ancient manuscripts in India and in the world at large that have not been studied for any clues that may point to the origin of the zero digit. In that connection it would be very timely to undertake a concerted effort now to discover what extant evidence may as yet be produced before crucial manuscripts deteriorate further or are lost altogether.

In order to facilitate such a proposed project, which properly should be supported by respective governments and conducted in collaboration with institutions of higher learning, the aim of the ZerOrigIndia Foundation is to facilitate the project in India by launching an online campaign comprising three parts:

a) An Online Petition that may be signed by the general public to indicate support;

b) A Crowdfunding component to collect donations from persons wanting to do more than simply endorse the campaign;

c) A Crowdsourcing component intended for scholars and researchers, who may wish to contribute to the cause in terms of ideas and suggestions.

The outcome of the online campaign will be presented to government of India and/or leading universities with a view to having the research proposal carried out.

ZerOrigIndia Foundation’s Science Committee, to be selected and appointed by the Board shall oversee and validate the process.

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