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**ZHero****Real Member**- Registered: 2008-06-08
- Posts: 1,889

Invented (or Discovered) by an Indian, 'ZERO' is believed to be one of the 'Greatest Inventions' of all times! Recall that Roman numerals don't have any 0!

Ever thought of what exactly is '0' all about?

It possess some peculiar an remarkable characteristics:

=> Only number which is neither +ve nor -ve!

=> Neither prime nor composite!

=> Multiply or divide by anything and it doesn't get affected!

=> Anything raised to 0 is 1 !

=> 0 raised to anything is 0 !

=> 0^0 is not defined!

=> Division by 0 is 'infinity' !

=> 0! is 1 (suprising)!

'0' is not mere an 'absence' of everything but its a 'presence' of everything!

Observe its notation carefully.. Its almost a circle.. A circle enclosing everything!

It starts where all things end and ends where everything starts!

'infinity' is its close relative (see above)! We can't count 0 but so we can't 'infinity'!!

Something which doesn't exist but is always there...

It doesn't have a 'value' but is often valued the most!

Much more can be said about 0...

In short.. Zero is the real Hero!

It should probably be called ZHero!!

If two or more thoughts intersect, there has to be a point!

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**JaneFairfax****Member**- Registered: 2007-02-23
- Posts: 6,868

*Last edited by JaneFairfax (2008-07-20 11:29:10)*

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**ZHero****Real Member**- Registered: 2008-06-08
- Posts: 1,889

How??

Like..

*Fixed LaTeX - Ricky*

*Last edited by ZHero (2008-07-20 14:59:57)*

If two or more thoughts intersect, there has to be a point!

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**mikau****Member**- Registered: 2005-08-22
- Posts: 1,504

because division by exactly zero is undefined. The operation has no meaning. And I think I can hear Ricky groaning when you say 1/∞ is equal to 0.

*Last edited by mikau (2008-07-20 15:16:00)*

A logarithm is just a misspelled algorithm.

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**Ricky****Moderator**- Registered: 2005-12-04
- Posts: 3,791

The question is what do we really mean by something 1/a? 1/a is related to a by the following property:

That is, 1/a is simply some number such that when multiplied by a, it gives the value 1. Note that all the little details about arithmetic, different properties of numbers, and their meanings (when we interrupt numbers as quantities) are not used here.

1/a is simply some number (any number) such that when multiplying it by a, we get 1. It turns out with a few very simple algebraic properties, 1/a must be unique. So my "any number" remark doesn't really come up in the vast majority of mathematics. But I suppose under a really ugly and chaotic system, it could.

That being said, what is 1/0? Well, going by the above, it is some number such that 1/0 * 0 = 1. We now prove that this is not possible.

Let a by any number. First, note that certainly 0 + 0 = 0. Then multiply both sides by a. We get that a * (0 + 0) = a*0. Using the distributed property, a*0 + a*0 = a*0. Subtracting a*0 from both sides, we are left with a*0 = a*0 - a*0. However, it must be that a*0 = a*0 (multiplication is well defined). Therefore, a*0 = a*0 - a*0 = 0. Therefore, for any number a, we have a*0 = 0.

So there is no such number where a * 0 = 1. Now you may say, "What about infinity"? When we introduce infinity, so many things get destroyed that make you want to go back and say, "Ok, let's not add in infinity". We can try to define infinity in a way that intuitively makes sense:

For any positive real number a, a * infinity = infinity, a * -infinity = -infinity, infinity * infinity = infinity, infinity * -infinity = -infinity, -infinity * -infinity = infinity.

But what about 0? If we have 1/0 * 0 = 1 and 1/0 = infinity, then infinity * 0 = 1. Now doesn't that just strike you as a bit odd? 0*infinity = 1, but 0*infinity = (a-a)*infinity as well. If we were to want the distributive properly to work on infinity, then a*infinity - a*infinity = 1? No, no, that can't be. For the love of God! So the distributive properly doesn't work on infinity. Everything else is still ok...

There is a well know theorem in mathematics that if a*b = c*b, then a = c. It should be obvious that this doesn't hold since 1*infinity = 2*infinity. Imagine trying to solve equations that involve infinity! Distribution doesn't work and neither do normal cancellation laws.

Things only get worse as you consider the more "pure" aspects of algebra. And I've been trying to say away from the "obvious" problems with introducing infinity (0/0, 0^0, etc). It's best just to leave infinity where it belongs: A thing that numbers can approach, but not be.

"In the real world, this would be a problem. But in mathematics, we can just define a place where this problem doesn't exist. So we'll go ahead and do that now..."

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**MathsIsFun****Administrator**- Registered: 2005-01-21
- Posts: 7,651

What a nice fun explanation!

Ricky wrote:

When we introduce infinity, so many things get destroyed that make you want to go back and say, "Ok, let's not add in infinity".

Love it

ZHero: You are right that Zero is an amazing number. It can also be a real pain sometimes

"The physicists defer only to mathematicians, and the mathematicians defer only to God ..." - Leon M. Lederman

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**kylekatarn****Member**- Registered: 2005-07-24
- Posts: 445

MathsIsFun wrote:

What a nice fun explanation!

Ricky wrote:When we introduce infinity, so many things get destroyed that make you want to go back and say, "Ok, let's not add in infinity".

Love it

ZHero: You are right that Zero is an amazing number.

Indeed!

"A thing that numbers can approach, but not be. "

awesome

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**JaneFairfax****Member**- Registered: 2007-02-23
- Posts: 6,868

ZHero wrote:

How??

Like..

:|

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**Identity****Member**- Registered: 2007-04-18
- Posts: 934

Works if you take limits:

Otherwise it's not true

*Last edited by Identity (2008-07-20 23:29:47)*

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**JaneFairfax****Member**- Registered: 2007-02-23
- Posts: 6,868

*Last edited by JaneFairfax (2008-07-20 23:46:37)*

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**MathsIsFun****Administrator**- Registered: 2005-01-21
- Posts: 7,651

Jane! Not so harsh, please. You are right, though.

Identity: Close! But we need to use a one-sided limit, which has special notation:

See Limits (An Introduction): "When it is different from different sides".

"The physicists defer only to mathematicians, and the mathematicians defer only to God ..." - Leon M. Lederman

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**ZHero****Real Member**- Registered: 2008-06-08
- Posts: 1,889

Above ideas bout Zero are nonetheless but an obscure thought!

Moreover, to say, division by 0 is infinity is at least 'ACCEPTABLE' and is definitely used in many calculations in engg, though has disambiguations!

See wiki 'Division by Zero' for more...!

If two or more thoughts intersect, there has to be a point!

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**mikau****Member**- Registered: 2005-08-22
- Posts: 1,504

hahaha, I even caught my calc teacher at school making that exact mistake, marked it wrong when I said

wrote infinity in red ink. A lot of people thanked me when I pointed out that 'does not exist' was indeed the correct answer.

The two sided rule is just a technicality thats easy to forget. Just an honest mistake, not bs. Did you get enough sleep, Jane?

*Last edited by mikau (2008-07-21 05:44:17)*

A logarithm is just a misspelled algorithm.

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**JaneFairfax****Member**- Registered: 2007-02-23
- Posts: 6,868

ZHero wrote:

Moreover, to say, division by 0 is infinity is at least 'ACCEPTABLE' and is definitely used in many calculations in engg, though has disambiguations!

Looks like we have another Anthony R. Brown in our midst. Time for another ban?

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**Ricky****Moderator**- Registered: 2005-12-04
- Posts: 3,791

ZHero, don't listen to Jane.

Jane, you're starting to cross the line. The line has been pushed back quite a lot for you because you really do post very valuable things and contribute to the forums. You are a valued member. But saying someone's ideas are "BS" is not acceptable here, especially when ZHero has been polite and courteous. Not everyone has the mathematical knowledge and experience you do.

Maybe you forget why ARB was banned in the first place. It wasn't because he was wrong, it was because he was rude and did not listen to the moderators (most of all... me...). I'm not comparing you to ARB, I would never do such a thing, but your reply to ZHero was rude and highly uncalled for.

If I had made ZHero's post, you know what? It would be ok if you responded like that to me. I'm someone who should know better, and I know that you know that too. ZHero (probably) isn't.

Please, in the future, remember where you're posting. Put yourself in the shoes of who you're replying to. And above all else, remember that yelling makes you look like an idiot, not like a person who knows they are right.

"In the real world, this would be a problem. But in mathematics, we can just define a place where this problem doesn't exist. So we'll go ahead and do that now..."

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**Ricky****Moderator**- Registered: 2005-12-04
- Posts: 3,791

ZHero wrote:

Above ideas bout Zero are nonetheless but an obscure thought!

Moreover, to say, division by 0 is infinity is at least 'ACCEPTABLE' and is definitely used in many calculations in engg, though has disambiguations!

See wiki 'Division by Zero' for more...!

Mathematically acceptable? No, not really. Perhaps you like to think of it that way, and as long as you know the idea is merely a way to think of it rather than actual mathematics, that's OK. But division by 0 is not used in any calculations.

"In the real world, this would be a problem. But in mathematics, we can just define a place where this problem doesn't exist. So we'll go ahead and do that now..."

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**ZHero****Real Member**- Registered: 2008-06-08
- Posts: 1,889

I can see the difference between saying 'to divide by 0 (which is NOT DEFINED)' and to just say 1/0 equals infinity!

*Last edited by ZHero (2008-07-21 07:25:57)*

If two or more thoughts intersect, there has to be a point!

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**ZHero****Real Member**- Registered: 2008-06-08
- Posts: 1,889

From the above discussions, all that i can make out is that 'limit x tends to infinity of 1\x' is different from 1\infinity !

But in the evaluation of certain integrals, involving infinity as one of the limits, one has to make use of such things as x^-infinity=0 or likewise.

However, one may say that this again involves 'limits' which is usually omitted during writing...

*Last edited by ZHero (2008-07-21 07:29:09)*

If two or more thoughts intersect, there has to be a point!

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**Ricky****Moderator**- Registered: 2005-12-04
- Posts: 3,791

I can see the difference between saying 'to divide by 0 (which is NOT DEFINED)' and to just say 1/0 equals infinity!

Really? Because I can't. Those two things mean exactly the same, yet you are saying one is not defined and one is infinity.

But in the evaluation of certain integrals, involving infinity as one of the limits, one has to make use of such things as x^-infinity=0 or likewise.

However, one may say that this again involves 'limits' which is usually omitted during writing...

They are ommitted because mathematicians, as a whole, are lazy. It does not mean they aren't their in the heads of mathematicians who read them.

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**ZHero****Real Member**- Registered: 2008-06-08
- Posts: 1,889

Ricky wrote:

Really? Because I can't. Those two things mean exactly the same, yet you are saying one is not defined and one is infinity.

oh! What i really wanted to say was.. 'difference between . . . and limit x tends to 0 of 1\x' !

These things are different.. Right??

Well.. Now i see the point of such a nasty debate! Our 'x' is getting closer and closer to 0 but can't equal 0 !

Is it a kind of Asymptote?!

If two or more thoughts intersect, there has to be a point!

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**MathsIsFun****Administrator**- Registered: 2005-01-21
- Posts: 7,651

ZHero wrote:

Now i see the point of such a nasty debate!

Cool. But it should never have been "nasty".

Jane please cool down ... we really love you on this forum, but not when you get angry. It is important to be a good educator as well.

Yes, ZHero, a kind of asymptote, in this case a vertical asymptote. Have a look at Plot of 1/x

BTW I have often heard "1/0 is infinity", but when you examine it closely you find that is not correct.

1/0 is asking "How many zeros make 1?"

Let us do a mental exercise: if you stack "zeros" on top of each other, the pile does not get any higher does it? Keep stacking ... the pile stays zero. So how can we say how many zeros in 1?

But yet we know if we go from 1/0.1 to 1/0.01 we get bigger ... and 1/0.001 is bigger, and 1/0.0000001 is even larger, and so on ... so we can see that as we get towards 1/0 the answer is getting towards infinity.

The result: we can't answer 1/0, but we can see that as "x" gets smaller "1/x" heads towards infinity. So that is why we use limits.

(And then we have to be careful which way we head there, from the positive or negative side, as we would head towards +infinity or -infinity)

"The physicists defer only to mathematicians, and the mathematicians defer only to God ..." - Leon M. Lederman

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**ZHero****Real Member**- Registered: 2008-06-08
- Posts: 1,889

That was a really Cool (and obviously very Patient) answer!

Thanks!

Love you MathsIsFun!

No joke: There r two kinda people..

Those who know a lot and are satisfied & those who know less but are eager to learn more and more...!

Who's better?

Keep smiling everyone!

It adds to your beauty...

Regards!

If two or more thoughts intersect, there has to be a point!

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**bossk171****Member**- Registered: 2007-07-16
- Posts: 305

You are forgetting the kind of people who think they know a lot... but don't really.

Would this be an appropriate time to discuss dividing by zero in modular arithmetic? Dividing by zero definitely plays an interesting role there. I'm not saying any more until either Ricky or Mathisfun gives me the go ahead, because I'm afraid that going into detail might be confusing and hence a bad idea.

There are 10 types of people in the world, those who understand binary, those who don't, and those who can use induction.

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**MathsIsFun****Administrator**- Registered: 2005-01-21
- Posts: 7,651

Would love to hear about it ... maybe start a new topic?

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**Ricky****Moderator**- Registered: 2005-12-04
- Posts: 3,791

Would this be an appropriate time to discuss dividing by zero in modular arithmetic? Dividing by zero definitely plays an interesting role there. I'm not saying any more until either Ricky or Mathisfun gives me the go ahead, because I'm afraid that going into detail might be confusing and hence a bad idea.

The integers modulo n always form a ring, and in such an algebraic structure, my proof that a*0 = 0 holds. Thus, division by zero again does not make sense. Now you can change definitions around to make it work (for example, having 1/a no longer meaning "the multiplicative inverse of a" would do it), but that isn't exactly modular arithmetic anymore.

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