Zero is a number

Zero plays a key role in understanding numbers. Mathematically, there are several uses or meanings attributed to zero that students have to work with. With one meaning the quantity ‘nothing’ is represented. This may mean ‘none’ as in ‘a team scored no goals in a football match’, or it may mean ‘no tens and no units’ as in the number 600.

Zero is also used as a coordinate of an arbitrary point of reference or origin, for example (0, 0). From this point at least two mutually opposite directions can be considered. Understanding that zero has all these different meanings is important when teaching negative numbers.

1 The meaning of numbers

Negative numbers