Q&A #3893

Dividing by zero

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From: Claudia (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: May 08, 2000 at 20:33:12
Subject: Re: Dividing by zero

It is past 2:00pm but I am going to add my 2 cents worth!

Division by zero is undefined because there is no way to check the problem
by multiplication means.  2/0 = ?  There is no ? such that 0 * ? = 2.  It
seems that the notion of solution sets has gotten twisted into this. If 2/0
= x, there would be NO SOLUTION for x, which could possibly be interpreted
as the null set. To say that the null set if part of the solution is not
correct. "It is part of that something of nothing" argument one gets into
when discussing division by zero.  Later on, as Pat pointed out there are
meanings for indeterminate forms in calculus. There is also discussion, say
for f(x) = 2/x , where x=0, a vertical asymptote exists. Or for f(x) = (x^2-
4)/(x-2) where x = 2, there is a hole in the graph. The problems I find
students have, is having a teacher who describes the process as MEANINGLESS,
for higher mathematics it has meaning!

 -Claudia, for the Teacher2Teacher service

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