# Is Zero Nothing?

I had a fortune cookie today that read, “The odds of you hitting your target go up dramatically when you’re aiming at it.”

My first thought was, “No they don’t. Before aiming, there aren’t any odds at all. Going up is relative. Without previous odds, there’s nothing to increase.”

Then, I thought, “No odds are zero odds. Zero is just a placeholder. Adding odds increases from zero.”

Lastly, I thought, “Zero isn’t nothing. It’s an empty set, not the lack of a set. It would be empty probability, not the lack of probability.”

Is zero nothing? Does lack of quantity equal lack of quality?

Do they serve liqueur there?
Your “first thought” was incorrect. It went down hill from there.
And zero is a quality as well as a place holder (in mathematics).

In addition to being an empty set, zero is also the lack of a set. Or in other words… lack of a set = zero sets.

Perhaps my brain is not functioning as well as it could at the moment… but I’m having difficulty understanding how zero is a quality. Care to elaborate or give examples? Thanks

To me the sentence has an internal language problem and not a mathematical one. If you have a target, you are already aiming, to some degree. You have a desire or goal and images, most likely at least, of said target in your mind. You are minimally oriented towards hitting it.

You can see this is the case if you compare yourself, the one with the target, with someone who does not have that target or any target.

You want that woman to be with you. There is already an emotional aiming, even if you just sit around on your couch daydreaming about her. Now, it is possible she will run up to your door, break it down, and, well, be with you. So the odds are not zero. Unless they are. I mean, she might never go for a guy like you. (using ‘you’ in the general sense, iow I am not insulting Daktoria.

odds…

I think this word also gets problematic when thinking of zero, but I will leave to the math people.

It’s sarcasm. Please, don’t anyone panic. It’s just dry humor.

Zero odds are no odds at all, yes. But you could accidentally hit the target without aiming. Depending on the specific example, the odds are probably indeterminable. Odds are figured only when you know all the possible outcomes and only within a context.

There is a difference between zero and an empty set, however. Zero is the cardinality of (number of items in) an empty set.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

“Shoot for the stars, land on the moon.”

That kind of thing.

Beyond that I’d say 0 is a number (something), and “zero” a word (also something). As a number and word respectively, they refer to a concept (also something); that concept then refers (in theory) to nothing.

That’s the chain as I see it, anyway.

If we’re trying to analyze the meaningfulness of the fortune cookie, and whether it makes sense technically, I thought about it like this:

You are holding a bow and arrow. You’ve got the arrow fully pulled back on the string. You are not aiming directly at your target. Let’s say you’re aiming at a 45 degree angle relative to your target. What are your odds of hitting the target if you let go of the string?

Not 0. There are a lot of different ways to hit the target. Maybe the arrow will ricochet off something, or your hand will twitch at the last moment and it will go flying towards the target, or there will be a sudden burst of wind that pushes your arrow to the target. Who knows?

But I think most people would agree that, regardless, the odds are pretty low. 1 times 10 to the power of -5? Idk, very low, some low number.

But you change your aim, you start pointing towards the target. Unless you’re an incredibly bad archer, the odds go up.

Two is quite even.
One is certainly odd.
But nothing can be no more flawless than zero.

The “odds” are the number of successes divided by the number of opportunities.
He who doesn’t take his opportunity has 0/1 odds of success = 0.

What is the quality of the painting that doesn’t exist? - Zero.

I don’t know if that’s a good definition of ‘odds’. Seems like with such a definition, you can only talk about odds after the fact, because you only know how many successes happened after they happen.

“expected successes”

That’s definitely closer.

Like all measurements, just because the measurement hasn’t been noted, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t there to be measured.

If that was in response to me, I don’t understand why. I don’t think I implied anything about measurements at all.

Zero isn’t the same as nothing, any more than one is the same as a single thing.