As you probably know, division by zero is undefined. What does that mean? Literally, it means that division by zero has no meaning. There is no method to find what something divided by zero is. So a while ago I wrote a tweet about wanting someone to define division by zero.
I wrote that tweet because I was tired of the calculator displaying “Error: Division by zero is undefined” when I type a division by zero problem, so I wanted someone to define it. But recently I have discovered something that could possibly define division by zero…
In a central processing unit of a computer, there is a unit in there called an Adder. This adder basically adds two binary numbers (like 01101 and 101) together (You get 11011). If you can add two numbers, you can really use all of the other operations in arithmetic. Adding is just adding two numbers together. Subtracting is just adding a negative number to a positive number. Multiplying is adding more than once, and dividing is adding negative numbers (subtracting) more than once.
Dividing is subtracting more than once. If you look at division that way, you get a whole new perspective on it. You take a number, then subtract it over and over again until you get to zero. Then you take the number of times you subtracted and that is the answer to the division problem. Let me show you an example, such as 12÷4. To figure that out, you would subtract 4 from 12, 4 from that, and four from that over and over again until you get to zero, like this: 12 – 4 – 4 – 4 = 0. The number of times you subtracted four is your answer, and in this case, the answer is 3.
However, if you subtract zero from 12 over and over again, you’ll never get to zero. Every time you subtract 0 from the previous number, you get 12 again. You’ll never even reach 11 or 10. With that idea, we could say that anything divided by zero is infinity.
But we can’t. Watch this video from Numberphile: