Math Basics

All About Numbers

How are numbers classified?

The set of natural numbers are also called integers—or counting or whole numbers— which are usually defined as the positive and negative whole numbers, along with zero (0). But many times, mathematicians do not use the term “natural numbers,” and instead define numbers based on the following terminology and/or symbols:

Group Name Symbol
…,-3,-2,-1, 0, 1, 2, 3… integers Z (after the German word Zahl, for “number”)
1, 2, 3… positive integers (or often referred to as natural numbers) Z+ or N
-1, -2, -3… negative integers Z-
0, 1, 2, 3 … nonnegative integers (or often referred to as whole numbers) Z* (Z-star)
0, -1, -2, -3 … nonpositive integers (no symbol)


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