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1 / infinity

  1. Jan 23, 2015 #1
    What is 1 / infinity? Is it even possible to divide by infinity?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 23, 2015 #2

    Mark44

    Staff: Mentor

    No, and you can't use ∞ in arithmetic expressions.

    Where expressions such as this often show up is in limit expressions, such as ##\lim_{x \to \infty} \frac{1}{x}##. The value of this limit is 0. We don't write 1/∞.
     
  4. Jan 23, 2015 #3

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    To expand just slightly on Mark's post, the literal answer to "what is 1/infinity" is "an undefined quantity" (as is n/0).

    One of the problems with allowing these undefined quantities to be used as though they were numbers is that by using them you can readily prove that any number is the same as any other number.
     
  5. Jan 25, 2015 #4
    If you can't use infinity in arithmetic expressions, can you substitute things equal to infinity that behave well in those expressions?
    Like this? :)

    1+2+3... the partial sums of the infinite series grow without bound = infinity
    1+2+3...can be summed to equal -1/12
    if two things equal to the same thing are themselves equal
    then
    1/infinity = 1/(-1/12) = -12
     
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