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Debra and Miriam Aczel, wife and daughter of Amir D.

Aczel, talk about goals of the foundation and what they’ve accomplished thus far.

They tell listeners about

  • Aczel’s inspirations, including his childhood friendship with a ship’s steward that led him on the path to mathematics and science research,
  • The foundation’s involvement with K-127, the earliest dated artifact that uses zero, and its place in Cambodia’s history, and
  • Future goals of the foundation, including partnerships with groups helping to contribute to upcoming generations participating in mathematics and science research.

Debra G. Aczel, co-founder and co-director, and Miriam Aczel , co-director, talk about the Amir D. Aczel Foundation for Research. Miriam is also obtaining her PhD in London on environmental policy emphasizing global environmental change and climate science.

In 2019, the Amir D. Aczel Foundation for Research held the “Symposium on the History of Mathematics: The Number Zero” in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Debra and Miriam talk about the symposium as they explain how the foundation lives up to the spirit of what Amir wanted to bring about in the world.

They touch on the story of Finding Zero, Amir’s love for all things math, and how he believed telling a good story was a vital way to reach people about math and science.

His involvement with the k-127 artifact was substantial as he wrote about it as a key to understanding the zero symbol’s origin in the region. The 2019 symposium prioritized this important history and Cambodian’s place in the story.

Miriam explains that the conference itself had two goals centered on sustainability: first, prioritizing the sustainability of relationships they were building between Cambodian mathematicians and world mathematicians; and second, substantiality through food and venue choices emphasizing global environmental change and climate science.

For more and to contact the foundation, see its web site at

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