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By 130 AD, Ptolemy, influenced by Hipparchus and the Babylonians, was using a symbol for zero (a small circle with a long overbar) in his work on mathematical astronomy called the Syntaxis Mathematica, also known as the Almagest. The way in which it is used can be seen in his table of chords in that book. Ptolemy's zero was used within a sexagesimal numeral system otherwise using alphabetic Greek numerals. Because it was used alone, not just as a placeholder, this Hellenistic zero was perhaps the earliest documented use of a numeral representing zero in the Old World. However, the positions were usually limited to the fractional part of a number (called minutes, seconds, thirds, fourths, etc. )—they were not used for the integral part of a number, indicating a concept perhaps better expressed as "none", rather than "zero" in the modern sense. In later Byzantine manuscripts of Ptolemy's Almagest, the Hellenistic zero had morphed into the Greek letter omicron (otherwise meaning 70).

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