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Finding Zero: A Mathematician's Odyssey to Uncover the Origins of Numbers Hardcover – January 6, 2015

4.3 out of 5 stars 61 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A captivating story, not just an intellectual quest but a personal one...[Aczel's] tale is gripping, filled with the passion and wonder of numbers.” ―Amir Alexander, The New York Times

“In his quest to find out whence the numbers came, Aczel crosses the globe, visiting India, Thailand, Vietnam and elsewhere…in weaving together mathematics and history with his personal explorations, Aczel enables readers to experience the joy of the chase.” ―Scientific American

“In this combination of memoir, travelog, and philosophical musing, Aczel recounts his search for the origin of the numerals…Recommended for anyone who cares about the history of mathematics and science.” ―Library Journal

“Readers...accompany Aczel as he tests the limits of coldly cerebral Western mathematical logic against the stunning eroticism of numerical thinking in Hinduism, and weighs the truefalse reasoning of Aristotle against the bewildering four-prong logic of the Buddha...An exciting personal adventure reminding readers of how much nothing really means.” ―Booklist (starred review)

“Prolific mathematics writer Aczel leads a historical adventure that doubles as a surprisingly engaging math lesson...Readers may find themselves questioning Aczel's sanity, as his obsession with zero's origins drives him from one dead end to the next, but it's difficult to avoid being drawn into his quest with these rip-roaring exploits and escapades.” ―Publishers Weekly

“The author of the best-selling Fermat's Enigma (1996) and other popular books on mathematics and science takes readers through a history of zero and takes himself on a journey through the jungles of Cambodia to find its the earliest use. …the journey to zero is an adventure worth joining.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“The zero is the most precious mathematical legacy we have from medieval times.  Without it, modern mathematics would be unthinkable.  In this delightful book Amir Aczel engagingly explains its importance, while recounting his search for the earliest representation of zero ― and the drama that erupted when he found it.” ―Ian Tattersall, Curator Emeritus in the Division of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History

“Amir Aczel is the Indiana Jones of the mathematical world, taking us on an enthralling adventure to find out where our numbers came from.” ―Marcus du Sautoy, professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and author of The Number Mysteries

“Venturing deep into the jungles of Southeast Asia amidst vine-enveloped stone ruins and cutthroat treasure hunters, math's own Indiana Jones uncovers the world's oldest written zero.” ―Grand Forks Herald

About the Author

Amir D. Aczel is the author of fifteen books, including The Riddle of the Compass, The Mystery of the Aleph, and the international bestseller Fermat's Last Theorem. An internationally known writer of mathematics and science, he is a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He lives in Brookline, MA.


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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
61 customer ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on March 26, 2015
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Reviewed in the United States on March 13, 2016
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Reviewed in the United States on January 31, 2015
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Top international reviews

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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 23, 2017
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hema
3.0 out of 5 stars Its a mix of travellogue, philosophy, mathmatics to ...
Reviewed in India on May 30, 2017
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5.0 out of 5 stars It describes the importance of zero and its connection to Buddhism
Reviewed in Australia on June 13, 2019
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P. S. SESHADRI
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in India on December 8, 2016
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shekar
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in India on June 26, 2017
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Chantal
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!
Reviewed in France on March 4, 2018
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Shrikant
5.0 out of 5 stars Great job Amir !!
Reviewed in India on May 8, 2015
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Allan Oliver Thorleifson
4.0 out of 5 stars This jaunty travelogue leaves one, occasionally wondering whether all ...
Reviewed in Canada on May 23, 2015
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