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Math and Arithmetic

What happens when you divide by zero?


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August 08, 2011 5:52PM

Without having any desire to begin an argument, you can't. Division by zero is undefined by mathematicians. Any division operation with zero as the divisor presents a stop! sign to the mathematician; it is an operation that cannot be executed. It's one of those you-can't-get-there-from-here things. How many times does zero divide into ten? How many times do you have to multiply zero by to get ten? You can't do that. You can't get there from here. The operation is undefined.

One of the burdens of asking a question is having to accept the answer. That does not mean that you cannot change things, but with this one, it cannot be done from the perspective of current mathematical thinking. If it is not possible for the questioner to accept this answer, some investigation and experimentation might be in order. But it is improbable that another answer will appear.

The reason that division by zero cannot be performed is that forbidding the operation provides closure to mathematics. If division by zero could be performed, then it could be proved that any unique number equals any other unique number. We know that six does not equal nine, but it can be mathematically proved that it is true if division by zero is possible.