Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from Justin, a student:

Hello, I was just wondering, what is the difference between 0/0 being represented as nullity or as an indeterminate form?
Thanks for answering my question!

All the Best,



From the equation 7 × b = 14 I can determine the value of b by dividing both sides by 7 to get b = 14/7 = 2. If the equation is 0 × b = 0 then I might again try to divide both sides by zero to get b = 0/0 but I know that I can't determine b from 0 × b = 0 since every number b makes this equation valid. This is why 0/0 is sometimes referred to as an indeterminate form.

The word nullity signifies nothingness, or devoid of content, or having no significance. It is in this sense of the word that 0/0 might be referred to as nullity. I would never use this term to refer to 0/0 as it might cause confusion. One meaning of the word null is zero and saying 0/0 signifies nullity might be interpreted to mean 0/0 is zero, which it is not! 0/0 has no mathematical significance.


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