Q&A #3893

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Dividing by zero

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From: Teh Oh Kian

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2000071010:55:49
Subject: Zero divided by zero (indeterminate form).

I'm a Senior Assistant in one of the schools in Malaysia.
I have been teaching Mathematics for more than 20 years. Sopmetimes I
find it quite difficult to explain the meaning of the indeterminate
form 0/0. This is even more difficult than explaining to students n/0
for n=/0 (n not equal to zero). Students do understand my explanation
of n divided by 0 (I explain that if one has n objects and each time
zero object is being taken out, in how many times can n objects be all
taken? So trivialy the answer is infinite number of times.) Students
will tend to argumen that knowing there is nothing (zero), what is
that to be taken out (divided) or shared? I need to teach students 0/0
because it's the prerequisite knowledge before students can learn
singular points in curve sketching.
Is there anyone who can give a better explanation on 0/0?
thanks in advance.

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