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### Dividing by Zero on a Calculator or Computer

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Date: 2/12/96 at 23:27:23
Subject: Dividing by 0
From: JASON HARMON

Whenever I try to divide a number by 0, I get an error on both
my computer and calculator. Please explain to me why this can't
be done.

Jason
```

```
Date: 2/13/96 at 16:39:56
From: Doctor Ethan
Subject: Re: Dividing by 0

Hi Jason,

Here's a little experiment for you to try on your calculator.
Observe the output when you try the following set of calculations:

1/1
1/.1
1/.01
1/.001
1/.0001
1/.00001
etc... until your calculator can't go any further or you get tired.

You should notice that the answers continue getting larger and
larger. Another way of thinking of it is to imagine filling a box
with apples. Say a box can fit 100 apples.  Now try filling it with
apples that are  half the size of these apples.  You can put 200 in
the box.  Now imagine a special, magic apple that takes up no
room at all.  How many can you put in the box?

Well, the answer is... there is no answer!  That is why mathematicians
refer to numbers which are divided by 0 as "undefined."  Some
people tend to think of them as being infinite, but this isn't exactly
true.   There simply is no answer.

-Doctor Ethan,  The Math Forum

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Associated Topics:
High School Calculators, Computers

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