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Divide By Zero
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I was presented with a pretty interesting situation the other day:

Can you divide by zero.  This is what one physics professor says:

Actually, zero divided by zero is not necessarily infinity.  ANY number qualifies as zero divided by zero.  It is when you get to dividing NON-zero numbers by zero that you confront infinities.

Think of this in terms of the definition of division.  A divided by B means: How many times must you subtract B from A to reach zero?

For A divided by zero, where A is any number except zero, the number is not even infinity, because infinity itself is not big enough.  No matter how many times you subtract zero from, say, five, you will never, ever reach zero.  So even infinity is not big enough to be 5/0.

What does this tell us about zero divided by zero?  Well, how many times must you subtract zero from zero in order to reach zero?

Zero times?  Sure.  That works.
One time?  That works too.
Two times?  Yes.  If you subtract zero from zero twice, the result is zero.
Pi times?  Again, if you subtract pi zeroes from zero, the result is zero.

We can do this with ANY NUMBER THERE IS, even zero.  So, zero divided by zero is truly a special way to define a number.  The answer can be infinity, or it can be zero, or absolutely anything else.  All numbers satisfy the operation.

I want to hear your thoughts and opinions.  TheZone -- what say ye?!

Posted Feb 9, 2009 4:19 PM by Darc
Filed under: ,

Syber wrote re: Divide By Zero
on Feb 9, 2009 3:13 PM

I dropped out of college.

Darc wrote re: Divide By Zero
on Feb 10, 2009 1:08 PM

You're a freak if you tell me you're both a) a programmer and b) opinionless on this matter.

Belial wrote re: Divide By Zero
on Feb 12, 2009 8:07 PM

Wednsday nights are dollar long necks at the station.

Syber wrote re: Divide By Zero
on Feb 17, 2009 4:44 PM

"You're a freak if you tell me you're both a) a programmer and b) opinionless on this matter."

I'll let you know when I'm supposed to write a calculator for work.

freaka wrote re: Divide By Zero
on Feb 17, 2009 6:12 PM

If you really think about it, zero is not a number. Division is for numbers.

Seeing as how Zero isn't a number, if you had a stick that measured 0 inches, how could you divide it further to make more sticks regardless of the number it's divided by?

Now semantically, if you describe division as "how many times x can fit into y" then 0/0 = 1.

Also semantically, you can choose to disregard the previous statement and say "Zero cant fit into Zero because Zero is effectively null". The plain and simple of it: You cant divide zero simply because division requires numbers, not just a numeral pretending to be one.