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Q & A: meaning of division

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Most recent answer: 11/11/2017
A question in mathematics (but very much related with Physics: How is it possible to divide a number by another one that is smaller than one? Think about the example: 6/0.1. Note that division of 6 apples into 2 people has the meaning of 3 apples for each person. But, what if we only have 0.1 people? Does it make sense to you that the answer is 60 when we only have 6 apples? Explain in detail your thinking.
- jake (age 19)

You can re-phrase the meaning of division in a way that extends to division by non-integers, including ones less than one, and even to division by negative numbers. A/B means "what number do you have to multiply B by to get A?" For the simple case of division by integers, that's the same as the "what do you get when divide A into B equal parts" definition you use, but it applies more broadly. In fact, it also works for complex numbers as well.

Mike W.

(published on 11/11/2017)

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