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Topic: [HM] A question around zero
Replies: 23   Last Post: Jan 31, 2000 3:36 AM

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Ed Wall

Posts: 845
Registered: 12/3/04
[HM] A question around zero
Posted: Jan 20, 2000 2:44 PM
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Last week I sat in on a class of teachers and the topic of the
evenness or oddness of zero came up. The primary stances taken by the
participants were essentially it was even or neither. Interested, I
checked out a few mathematical sources and found there was support
for both views: if one defines evenness or oddness on the integers
(either positive or all), then zero seems to be taken to be even; and
if one only defines evenness and oddness on the natural numbers, then
zero seems to be neither.

My impression is that conceptually even and oddness (in a few
variations) substantially predated zero and the negative integers. So
my question is: it known when and how evenness and oddness were
extended from the natural numbers to the integers? There seems to
have been substantial dislike of the negative integers (one source
mentions into the 1800s) so an early extension might have been to the
positive integers (although zero being even seems most useful if the
negative integers are included).

Ed Wall

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