Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from a teacher:

My students want an easy way to convert a fraction to a decimal, can I get one from you?


I'm afraid there isn't an "easy" way to convert a fraction to a decimal that works in every case, sometimes you just have to divide the numerator by the denominator. For example to convert $\large \frac{237}{519}$ to a decimal I would have to divide $237$ by $519$ to get 0.456647 (to 6 places).

There are situations however where you can use equivalent fractions to make the division easy, especially if the denominator is a factor of $10,$ or $100,$ or $1000,$ or some other power of $10.$ For example $\large \frac35$ is equivalent to $\large \frac{3 \times 2}{5 \times 2} \normalsize= \large \frac{6}{10} \normalsize = 0.6,$ and $\large \frac{17}{20} \normalsize= \large \frac{17 \times 5}{20 \times 5} = \frac{85}{100} \normalsize= 0.85.$

I hope this helps,

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