Is Zero an Even Number?

Is there any question that zero is an even number? It came up after hurricane Sandy, when New York mayor Michael Bloomberg announced gas restrictions. He used the words "Those with license plates ending in an even number, or the number zero," which made people think about the nature of zero. Dr James Grime of the Millennium Maths Project at Cambridge University says that people sometimes think of zero as even, odd, or neither.

Children find it particularly difficult to recognise if zero is odd or even. "A survey of primary school children in the 1990s showed that about 50% thought zero is even, about 20% thought it was odd and the remaining 30% thought it was neither, both, or that they don't know," explains Dr Grime.

"It appears that we may file numbers mentally into lists such as the even numbers two, four, six, eight or numbers to the power of two which would include two, four, six, eight or two, four, eight, 16. Zero is not on these lists so it takes us longer to work out."   

Just for the record, zero is an even number, although it took mathematicians a thousand years to decide it is. Bloomberg worded his announcement to eliminate any possible confusion. Link

(Image credit: Flickr user Gabrie Coletti)


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