# Amir D. Aczel

**Amir Dan Aczel **(6 Nov 1950, Haifa, Israel- 26 Nov 2015, Nimes, France) was an Israeli-born American mathermatician, lecturer in the history of mathematics and science, and author of books accessible to a large public who researched in particular the origins of "0".

He has recounted how, while traveling around the Mediterranean on board the liner *Theodor Herzl*, captained by his father, he developed a fascination for numbers when he crept into the Monte Carlo Casino at age 7. His father also taught him to steer and navigate a ship at age 10, which later inspired his book *The Riddle of the Compass*.

*Aczel's father and French-Italian-Egyptian singer Dalida on board SS Theodor Herzl in 1957 (photo from the book Finding Zero)*

After studying at the University of California at Berkeley and earning a Ph.D. in statistics from the University of Oregon, Amir Aczel taught mathematics at universities in California, Alaska, Massachusetts, Italy, and Greece, with a professorship at Bentley College, Massachusetts, USA, where he taught classes on statistics and the history of science and history of mathematics. He authored two textbooks on statistics. His book, *Fermat's Last Theorem *(ISBN 978-1-56858-077-7), was a United States bestseller and was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

A 2004 Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, a visiting scholar in the History of Science at Harvard University (2007), he was keen to make science more accessible to the general public. He was awarded a Sloan Foundation grant to research his 2015 book *Finding Zero, *in which he assumed that Indian and Khmer civilizations acknowledged the notion of "zero" before the Western world. He published many books on "the underlying mathematics in the universe, including *The Mystery of the Aleph, Descartes' Secret Notebook: A True Tale of Mathematics, Mysticism, and the Quest to Understand the Universe *(2005)*, Uranium Wars, God's Equation: Einstein, Relativity, and the Expanding Universe*.

During his last years, Amir Aczel settled in France with his wife Debra (they were married in 1984). In 2019, Debra Aczel and daughter Miriam Aczel (to whom* Finding Zero* is dedicated) launched **The Zero Project**, an international conference-cum-workshop by the **Amir Aczel Foundation**.

*Debra and Miriam Aczel in Phnom Penh for the launch of The Zero Project, 2019 (photo Debra Aczel)*

*Amir Aczel and daughter Miriam in the 2000s (photo Debra Aczel)*