# Zero vs. Null — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on October 31, 2023
Zero is a numerical value representing nothing or none, while Null indicates the absence of a value or data, often in computing contexts.

## Key Differences

Zero is a fundamental concept in mathematics and represents a number with no value. It serves as a placeholder in our numeral system and plays an integral role in arithmetic, calculus, and other branches of mathematics. Null, on the other hand, stems from computing and database contexts and signifies the absence of a value. It doesn't mean zero; instead, it means that no data exists or is applicable.
When considering Zero in a quantitative sense, it can be added, subtracted, or multiplied just like any other number. Null, conversely, is more qualitative. In programming, trying to perform operations on a null value can lead to errors.
Zero can often be visualized on a number line, lying between positive and negative numbers. Null cannot be placed on this line since it's not a numerical entity but a state of non-existence or non-assignment.
While Zero is universally understood across different fields, the interpretation of Null can vary based on context, especially outside of technical domains.

## Comparison Chart

### Nature

Numerical value.
Absence of value or data.

### Domain

Primarily Mathematics.
Primarily Computing and Databases.

### Operations

Operations can lead to errors in programming.

### Visualization

On a number line between positive and negative numbers.
Cannot be visualized on a number line.

### Interpretation

Universally understood as no value.
Interpretation varies; indicates non-existence or non-assignment.

## Compare with Definitions

#### Zero

A number with no value.
The sum of two opposite integers is zero.

#### Null

Indicates absence of a value in computing.
If the database field is not filled, it might return a null value.

#### Zero

The integer between positive and negative numbers.
On a number line, zero acts as the central point.

#### Null

Not equivalent to zero in programming.
The system crashed because the variable was null, not zero.

#### Zero

A placeholder in the decimal system.
In the number 2004, zero serves as a placeholder.

#### Null

A state of non-existence or non-assignment.
The result of the query was null, meaning no matching records were found.

#### Zero

Symbolized as "0."
She wrote a zero on the board.

#### Null

Can represent an unknown or undefined state.
The sensor returned a null reading, indicating a malfunction.

#### Zero

Represents absence in quantity.
There are zero apples left in the basket.

#### Null

Used in databases to denote missing or inapplicable data.
The user didn't input their age, so the field was set to null.

#### Zero

The numerical symbol 0; a cipher.

#### Null

Having no legal force; invalid
Render a contract null and void.

#### Null

Of no consequence, effect, or value; insignificant.

#### Zero

A cardinal number indicating the absence of any or all units under consideration.

#### Null

Amounting to nothing; absent or nonexistent
A null result.

#### Zero

An ordinal number indicating an initial point or origin.

#### Null

(Mathematics) Of or relating to a set having no members or to zero magnitude.

#### Zero

An argument at which the value of a function vanishes.

To make null.

#### Zero

The temperature indicated by the numeral 0 on a thermometer.

Zero; nothing.

#### Zero

A sight setting that enables a firearm to shoot on target.

#### Zero

(Informal) One having no influence or importance; a nonentity
A manager who was a total zero.

#### Null

A non-existent or empty value or set of values.

#### Zero

The lowest point
His prospects were approaching zero.

#### Null

Zero quantity of expressions; nothing.

#### Zero

(Informal) Nothing; nil
Today I accomplished zero.

#### Null

Something that has no force or meaning.

#### Zero

Of, relating to, or being zero.

#### Null

(computing) The null character; the ASCII or Unicode character (), represented by a zero value, which indicates no character and is sometimes used as a string terminator.

#### Zero

Having no measurable or otherwise determinable value.

#### Null

(computing) The attribute of an entity that has no valid value.
Since no date of birth was entered for the patient, his age is null.

#### Zero

(Informal) Not any; no
"The town has ... practically no opportunities for amusement, zero culture" (Robert M. Adams).

#### Null

One of the beads in nulled work.

#### Zero

Designating a ceiling not more than 16 meters (52 feet) high.

#### Null

(statistics) The null hypothesis.

#### Zero

Limited in horizontal visibility to no more than 55 meters (180 feet).

#### Null

Having no validity; "null and void".

#### Zero

(Linguistics) Of or relating to a morpheme that is expected by an established, regular paradigm but has no spoken or written form. Moose has a zero plural; that is, its plural is moose.

Insignificant.

#### Zero

To adjust (an instrument or a device) to zero value.

#### Null

Absent or non-existent.

#### Zero

The cardinal number occurring before one and that denotes no quantity or amount at all, represented in Arabic numerals as 0.
The conductor waited until the passenger count was zero.
A cheque for zero dollars and zero cents crashed the computers on division by zero.

#### Null

(mathematics) Of the null set.

#### Zero

The numeric symbol that represents the cardinal number zero.
In unary and k-adic notation in general, zero is the empty string.
Write 0.0 to indicate a floating point number rather than the integer zero.
The zero sign in American Sign Language is considered rude in some cultures.

#### Null

(mathematics) Of or comprising a value of precisely zero.

#### Zero

The digit 0 in the decimal, binary, and all other base numbering systems.
One million has six zeroes.

#### Null

Causing a complete loss of gene function; amorphic.

#### Zero

Nothing, or none.
The shipment was lost, so they had zero in stock.
In the end, all of our hard work amounted to zero.

Neutral.

#### Zero

The value of a magnitude corresponding to the cardinal number zero.
The electromagnetic field does not drop all of the way to zero before a reversal.

#### Null

To nullify; to annul.

#### Zero

The point on a scale at which numbering or measurement originates.
The temperature outside is ten degrees below zero.

#### Zero

(mathematics) A value of the independent variables of a function, for which the function is equal to zero.
The zeroes of a polynomial are its roots by the fundamental theorem of algebra.
The derivative of a continuous, differentiable function that twice crosses the axis must have a zero.
The nontrivial zeros of the Riemann zeta function may all lie on the critical line.

#### Null

To form nulls, or into nulls, as in a lathe.

#### Zero

The additive identity element of a monoid or greater algebraic structure, particularly a group or ring.
Since a commutative zero is the inverse of any additive identity, it must be unique when it exists.
The zero (of a ring or field) has the property that the product of the zero with any element yields the zero.
The quotient ring over a maximal ideal is a field with a single zero element.

#### Null

To crack; to remove restrictions or limitations in (software).

#### Zero

(slang) A person of little or no importance.
They rudely treated him like a zero.

#### Null

Of no legal or binding force or validity; of no efficacy; invalid; void; nugatory; useless.
Faultily faultless, icily regular, splendidly null,Dead perfection; no more.

#### Zero

(military) A Mitsubishi A6M Zero, a long range fighter aircraft operated by the Japanese Navy Air Service from 1940 to 1945.

#### Null

Having a value of zero; as, of null utility.

#### Zero

A setting of calibrated instruments such as a firearm, corresponding to a zero value.

#### Null

Empty; having no members; as, the null set.

#### Zero

(finance) A security which has a zero coupon (paying no periodic interest).
The takeovers were financed by issuing zeroes.

#### Null

Unassigned or meaningless; - a special value given to variables, especially pointers or logical variables, indicating that it is meaningless and cannot be used in computation; as, an uninitialized pointer in "C" is given a null value. The actual value that is stored in memory to indicate the null condition may vary with the computer language used.

#### Zero

(informal) No, not any.
She showed zero respect.

#### Null

Something that has no force or meaning.

#### Zero

(meteorology) Of a cloud ceiling, limiting vision to 50 feet (15 meters) or less.

#### Null

That which has no value; a cipher; zero.

#### Zero

(meteorology) Of horizontal visibility, limited to 165 feet (50.3 meters) or less.

#### Null

One of the beads in nulled work.

#### Zero

(linguistics) Present at an abstract level, but not realized in the surface form.
The stem of "kobieta" with the zero ending is "kobiet".

To annul.

#### Zero

(transitive) To set a measuring instrument to zero; to calibrate an instrument scale to valid zero.
Zero the fluorometer with the same solvent used in extraction.
George parked in space 34, zeroed the trip meter, closed and locked his car, then went back to the guard shack.

#### Null

A quantity of no importance;
It looked like nothing I had ever seen before
Reduced to nil all the work we had done
We racked up a pathetic goose egg
It was all for naught
I didn't hear zilch about it

#### Zero

To change a memory location or range to values of zero; to set a variable in a computer program to zero.
Results were inconsistent because an array wasn’t zeroed during initialization.

#### Null

Lacking any legal or binding force;
Null and void

#### Zero

(transitive) To cause or set some value or amount to be zero.
They tried to zero the budget by the end of the quarter.
The bill was over \$400, but the server zeroed it out as a gesture of gratitude.

#### Zero

(transitive) To eliminate; to delete; to overwrite with zeros.

#### Zero

(intransitive) To disappear.

#### Zero

A cipher; nothing; naught.

#### Zero

The point from which the graduation of a scale, as of a thermometer, commences.

#### Zero

Fig.: The lowest point; the point of exhaustion; as, his patience had nearly reached zero.

#### Zero

A quantity of no importance;
It looked like nothing I had ever seen before
Reduced to nil all the work we had done
We racked up a pathetic goose egg
It was all for naught
I didn't hear zilch about it

#### Zero

A mathematical element that when added to another number yields the same number

#### Zero

The quantity that registers a reading of zero on a scale

#### Zero

Adjust (an instrument or device) to zero value

#### Zero

Adjust (as by firing under test conditions) the zero of (a gun);
He zeroed in his rifle at 200 yards

#### Zero

Indicating the absence of any or all units under consideration;
A zero score

#### Zero

Indicating an initial point or origin

#### Zero

Of or relating to the null set (a set with no members)

#### Zero

Having no measurable or otherwise determinable value;
The goal is zero population growth

## Common Curiosities

#### Can you perform arithmetic operations with zero?

Yes, zero can be used in arithmetic operations like addition, subtraction, and multiplication.

#### What does zero represent in mathematics?

Zero represents a number with no value in mathematics.

#### Is null the same as zero in programming?

No, null indicates the absence of a value, whereas zero is a definite numerical value.

#### What happens if you try to operate on a null value in programming?

Operating on a null value in programming can lead to errors or unexpected results.

#### In which domain is the concept of null most commonly found?

The concept of null is most commonly found in computing and databases.

#### Is a null value the same as an empty string in programming?

No, a null value indicates the absence of a value, while an empty string is a value itself, albeit with no characters.

#### Is zero positive or negative?

Zero is neither positive nor negative; it's neutral.

#### How is zero used in the decimal numeral system?

In the decimal numeral system, zero is used as a placeholder.

#### Can a database field have a null value?

Yes, a database field can have a null value indicating missing or inapplicable data.

#### Can you equate a variable to null in programming?

Yes, in many programming languages, you can assign a null value to a variable to indicate it has no value.

#### Does zero have a position on the number line?

Yes, zero is positioned centrally on the number line between positive and negative numbers.

#### What does null signify in a database context?

In a database context, null signifies the absence of data or that data is not applicable.

#### Can you divide by zero?

No, division by zero is undefined in mathematics.

#### How is zero symbolized?

Zero is symbolized as "0."

#### How is zero different from null in a quantitative sense?

Zero is a defined quantity meaning none or nothing, while null represents an undefined or absent state.

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