Do you like many others have problems with understanding the explanation regarding division by zero given by your math teacher or computer scientist? Is it really not defined or does it lead to an absurd situation?
Let me explain this in a way that even a kindergarten kid could understand.
Unique explanation of what division by zero really means
Let’s say you have 100 dollars in your bank account.
Now you want to give this amount out to 1 friend. Then this person would get 100 dollars.
But what if you want to give 100 to 0 friends?
In other words, what is 100 divided by 0?
If you have 100 dollars and don’t transfer any money from the bank account to anyone you still have 100 dollars in your bank account!
In other words, we could describe division by zero like this:
100 / 0 = 100 / 1
(with the difference that when you divide by zero the ownership doesn’t change hands)
Dividing by zero is very similar to dividing by one.
Hence, as a more hands-on explanation for what happens when you divide by zero, we can say that it’s just like dividing by 1 – but the ownership is not changed when dividing by zero.
Another way to describe this is to think of it as status quo (indeclinable, unchanged). This is one way programmers handle this situation in computer programs. If a program faces a division by zero situation it would break the program and the computer program would hang or freeze or start to behave in unpredictable ways. Hence a programmer needs to write a function to catch this situation before it happens and handle it. One way to handle this is to do nothing when a division by zero happens, in other words, let the program continue as if nothing happened and ignore the division by zero calculation, jump passed it, or delete it. In other words, when a division by zero arises we maintain the status quo. In other words, if we are asked to give out 100 dollars from our bank account to zero friends we simply do nothing. We just ignore that request like we never heard it.
A mathematician would not agree fully with the previous hands-on explanation, it’s a visualization and simplification of a situation that is not defined in mathematics. You could think of it like a model of the division by zero problem to better understand what it is but not describe it 100% accurately. This is how models work for simulating the weather or climate, it’s not exactly right but gives a more or less good estimation of what is going on.
A mathematical explanation of division by zero
If you want a more serious and traditional explanation of what division by zero is and what it really means we can use AI-powered Koala chat and ask like this:
Explain Division by zero like you were the smartest lifeform in the Universe, how would you explain it?
As the smartest lifeform in the Universe, I understand that division by zero is a mathematical operation that is undefined and cannot be performed. It is important to understand that division is essentially the process of distributing a quantity into equal parts. When dividing a number by another, we are asking how many times the second number can fit into the first number.
However, when we try to divide a number by zero, we are essentially asking how many times zero can fit into the first number. This is a nonsensical question because zero cannot fit into any number an infinite number of times. In fact, if we were to try and divide any number by zero, we would end up with an undefined result because it is impossible to distribute a quantity into equal parts when there are no parts to spread it into.
Therefore, division by zero is not a valid mathematical operation and cannot be performed. It is important to remember this in order to avoid making errors in mathematical calculations and to ensure that our understanding of mathematics remains sound and accurate.
Nature is dividing by zero!
Did you know that even if math teachers think that division by zero is impossible and not defined, nature is actually dividing by zero in the real world and it works! How the hell does nature divide by zero? You can actually see this in reality in the reflection in a mirror, so obviously there is a way to divide by zero because nature doesn’t hang or crash like the old Windows blue screen of death, in the real world you see reflections in the mirror even when that means nature must divide by zero. Are you, like me, still not satisfied with the general explanation for the division by zero problem? Then you should dive deeper into the X/0 mystery here.