Alan Bradley abradley1 at
Mon Apr 23 22:26:42 MDT 2001

> From: Jim C
> Since they knew that as the divisor of each whole was halved, it doubled
> the dividend ( 1/1 = 1; 1 / 1/2 = 2; 1 / 1/4 = 4 etc, therefore 1/0 must
> be indeterminate or close to infinity...)

The crunch is, of course, that the same approach can be followed with the
negative numbers.  -1/1 = -1; -1/ 1/2 = -2; -1/ 1/8 = -4 etc.  That is, by
the very same logic that evaluates 1/0 as infinity, it can be evaluated to -
infinity.  There is, of course, no basis for preferring one solution over
the other.

From: Charles Brown
>  In arithmetic they must mean that you can't divide by zero, because we
> are not ready to deal with that yet. But I think kids could understand
> exploration of the concept of dividing by zero.

The easiest way to explore it would be to draw graphs.

Really it's an example of the concept of mathematical limits.

(It's so looong since I studied maths...  I actually enjoyed the few maths
subjects I did at university, although I could never afford to spend enough
time on them.  I probably would have been better off studying subjects where
you had to write essays though - I have trouble writing long articles.)

Alan Bradley
abradley1 at

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