Dividing by Zero on a Calculator or ComputerDate: 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. Thank you in advance, 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. I hope this helped answer your question. -Doctor Ethan, The Math Forum |
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