Why Can't the Denominator of a Fraction Be Zero?

  • I
  • Thread starter ChiralSuperfields
  • Start date
  • Tags
    Fraction
In summary, the bottom fraction, or denominator, cannot equal zero because division by zero is undefined. This applies to both constants and variables, regardless of whether numbers are plugged in or not. Other operations such as taking the square root of a negative number or the logarithm of a non-positive number are also not allowed if the result is intended to be a real number. It is important to have a strong foundation in algebra and trigonometry before tackling more advanced topics such as derivatives.
  • #1
ChiralSuperfields
1,331
142
For this problem,
1677526334788.png

I don’t understand why the bottom fraction cannot equal zero since we are not plugging in any numbers it just in terms of variables. Would anybody else be able to provide with an explanation?

Many thanks!
 
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
Callumnc1 said:
For this problem,
View attachment 322953
I don’t understand why the bottom fraction cannot equal zero since we are not plugging in any numbers it just in terms of variables. Would anybody else be able to provide with an explanation?

Many thanks!
The "bottom fraction", really the bottom of the fraction, or denominator, can't be zero because division by zero is undefined. So the subsequent work is to determine the values of the x and y variables that make the fraction, and hence y', undefined.

This is very basic stuff.
 
  • Like
Likes ChiralSuperfields
  • #3
Mark44 said:
The "bottom fraction", really the bottom of the fraction, or denominator, can't be zero because division by zero is undefined. So the subsequent work is to determine the values of the x and y variables that make the fraction, and hence y', undefined.

This is very basic stuff.
Thank you for your help @Mark44 !
 
  • #4
Callumnc1 said:
I don’t understand why the bottom fraction cannot equal zero since we are not plugging in any numbers it just in terms of variables.
It's really immaterial whether we're dealing with constants or variables, and in the latter case, whether we're "plugging in numbers" or not. There are certain arithmetic and algebraic operations that aren't allowed, among which the most prominent is division by zero. Other operations that aren't allowed, if the result is intended to be a real number, are taking the square root or other even root of a negative number, taking the logarithm or a non-positive number, and so on.

These ideas normally are presented before derivatives are presented, but it looks like you might have skipped over or forgotten them.
 
  • Like
Likes ChiralSuperfields
  • #5
Mark44 said:
It's really immaterial whether we're dealing with constants or variables, and in the latter case, whether we're "plugging in numbers" or not. There are certain arithmetic and algebraic operations that aren't allowed, among which the most prominent is division by zero. Other operations that aren't allowed, if the result is intended to be a real number, are taking the square root or other even root of a negative number, taking the logarithm or a non-positive number, and so on.

These ideas normally are presented before derivatives are presented, but it looks like you might have skipped over or forgotten them.
Thank you for your reply @Mark44!

They did not really teach me too much about those ideas sadly. I got taught cacl before conics and alot of the other precacl topics.

Many thanks!
 
Last edited:
  • #6
Callumnc1 said:
They did not really teach me too much about those ideas sadly. I got taught cacl before conics and alot of the other precacl topics.
Then it would be a very good idea to spend some time going over the precalculus topics, either from a precalc textbook (which you can get fairly cheaply) or via internet sites such as khanacademy.org. Not having a solid foundation in algebra and trig is really going to hold back your understanding in the kinds of problems you've been posting.
 
  • Like
Likes ChiralSuperfields
  • #7
Mark44 said:
Then it would be a very good idea to spend some time going over the precalculus topics, either from a precalc textbook (which you can get fairly cheaply) or via internet sites such as khanacademy.org. Not having a solid foundation in algebra and trig is really going to hold back your understanding in the kinds of problems you've been posting.
Thank you @Mark44, I will have a look!
 

Similar threads

Replies
32
Views
3K
  • Precalculus Mathematics Homework Help
Replies
21
Views
897
  • Precalculus Mathematics Homework Help
Replies
9
Views
696
  • Calculus and Beyond Homework Help
Replies
2
Views
309
  • Calculus and Beyond Homework Help
Replies
4
Views
1K
  • Calculus and Beyond Homework Help
Replies
8
Views
1K
  • Calculus and Beyond Homework Help
Replies
9
Views
1K
Replies
9
Views
3K
Replies
1
Views
1K
Back
Top