Division (mathematics)

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In mathematics, the word "division" means the operation which is the opposite of multiplication. Some symbols for division can be a slash (), a (fraction) line, or the division sign (),[1] as in:

   or       or   

where each of the three expressions means "6 divided by 3", with 2 as the answer. The first number is the dividend (6), and the second number is the divisor (3). The result (or answer) is the quotient, where any left-over amount as whole numbers is called the "remainder".[2] For example, 14/4 gives quotient 3 with remainder 2, all expressed as the number 3+24, or as 3+12 or 3.5).

The numbers involved in division can be very big, such as the case with two hundred: 200/5 = 40, or with 7 billion:  7,000,000,000 / 1000 = 7,000,000 (where the quotient is equal to 7 million).

With multiplication[change | change source]

If c times b equals a, written as:

where b is not zero, then a divided by b equals c, written as:


For instance,



In the above expression, a is called the dividend, b the divisor and c the quotient.[3]

Division by zero, as in

is not defined.

Notation[change | change source]

Division is most often shown by placing the dividend over the divisor with a horizontal line, also called a vinculum, between them. For example, a divided by b is written as

This can be read as "a divided by b", or "a over b". A way to express division all on one line is to write the dividend, then a slash, then the divisor, like this:

This is the usual way to specify division in most computer programming languages, since it can easily be typed as a simple sequence of characters.

A typographical variation which is halfway between these two forms uses a slash, but elevates the dividend and lowers the divisor:

ab .

Any of these forms can be used to display a fraction. A fraction is a division expression where both dividend and divisor are integers (in which case, the two numbers are typically referred to as numerator and denominator). A fraction is an accepted way of writing numbers. It is not always expected that the result of the division is written in decimals.

A less common way to show division is to use the obelus (or division sign) in this manner:


But in elementary arithmetic this form is used rather often. The obelus is also used alone to represent the division operation itself, as in the case of a label on a key of a calculator.

In some non-English-speaking cultures, "a divided by b" is written as a : b. However, in English-speaking countries the colon is restricted to expressing the related concept of ratios[1] (where a:b reads "a is to b").

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Compendium of Mathematical Symbols". Math Vault. 2020-03-01. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  2. "Division". www.mathsisfun.com. Retrieved 2020-08-26.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Weisstein, Eric W. "Division". mathworld.wolfram.com. Retrieved 2020-08-26.

Other websites[change | change source]