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Professor Marcus du Sautoy explores the Chinese number system, which is a precursor to the place-value system that we use in the West today. However, it lacked a symbol for zero, as did the ancient Greek and Egyptian systems too. It took the Indian invention of zero to advance mathematics and the number system. Indian mathematicians did important work on calculating with zero, and also came up with the idea of infinity as one divided by zero. He then explains how they moved on to develop negative numbers too.
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First broadcast:
13 October 2008

Classroom Ideas

Use as enrichment clip for lessons on numbers and place value, or column methods of addition. The clip explains the importance of 'zero', and how indian mathematicians invented it.

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