Q&A #3893

Dividing by zero

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From: Jeanne (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: May 08, 2000 at 19:36:46
Subject: Re: Dividing by zero

I agree with Pat that there seems to be a confusion in language and process here between being unable to solve an equation (null set) and being unable to evaluate an expression. To add to the discussion of being unable to evaluate an expression, I'd like to add another term, "indeterminant." Let's look at k/0 = any constant, c, where k is non-zero. This implies k = 0 * c. This statement is never true. We say it is "undefined." Now, let's look at 0/0 = any constant, c. This implies 0 = 0 * c. This statement is always true, regardless of the value of c. We say this is "indeterminant." I don't know that I have helped your situation. But I enjoyed thinking about what I would have said/shown your student, if I were in your place. -Jeanne, for the Teacher2Teacher service Visit us again at http://mathforum.com/t2t/

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