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Difference Between Zero and Nothing

Zero vs Nothing

The differences between zero and nothing are critical. Many civilizations could not solve tricky calculations due to their ignorance towards the magical figure of zero. “Zero” is considered to be a number while “nothing” is considered to be an empty or null set.

Zero has a numeric value of “0.” Zero is a numerical digit as well as a number and is used to denote that number in numerical values. It has a vital role in all branches of science and mathematics as identification of real numbers, integers, and other algebraic formations. In the place value system, it is used as a placeholder. A zero placed after a number increases its value.

However, “nothing” is only a concept depicting a void or absence of anything relevant. It does not have any value. The difference between zero and nothing may be clarified using an example. Imagine there are two students “A” and “B” in a class. In a mathematics examination of 100 points, “A” is the student who attends class and appeared for the examination, and “B” is the student who neither attended the class nor appeared for the examination. The fact that “B” got zero points is irrelevant and means nothing while zero for “A” means an actual zero.

Another vital difference is that zero has a measurable beginning or a measurable end while nothing does not has any beginning or end. Zero is a relative term while the absence of anything measurable is reflected in nothing.
This difference between zero and nothing may also be explained using the set theory.
A set may be described as a collection of objects. As in:
S = {0, 1, 2, 3, 4}
In this set, the numbers zero, one, two, three, four are considered as the elements of the set. The set may have subsets as the elements are numbers. It may be said that “1” is contained inside the set “S.” The cardinality of the set “S” is “5” which is the total number of elements contained inside a set.

A set which has nothing inside it is called a null set or empty set. It is represented by {} or 0. However, a subset of set S {0} is not an empty set. It has a cardinality of “1.” Thus it is different from the null or empty set.
Considering another instance, zero is very much related to a vacuum. A vacuum is a void. It is devoid of anything but still it is something. It has zero length and breadth so it has a value equal to zero, but it is not nothing. It has its own characteristics and properties much like the integer zero.

1.“Zero” is a number while “nothing” is not.
2.Zero has its own characteristic properties while nothing has no characteristics or properties.
3.In the case of zero, at least there is a possibility of starting and ending something while in “nothing” there is no such possibility.

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  • 1 Comment

    1. I like the discussion on zero and nothing. It appears from their distinction that
      1/zero=infinity and 1/nothing=undefined.

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