1200-year-old problem ‘easy’

Posted on December 7, 2006 

1200-year-old problem ‘easy’

Schoolchildren in Caversham have become the first in the country to learn about a new number – ‘nullity’ – which solves maths problems neither Newton nor Pythagoras could conquer.

Dr James Anderson, from the University of Reading’s computer science department, says his new theorem solves an extremely important problem – the problem of nothing.

“Imagine you’re landing on an aeroplane and the automatic pilot’s working,” he suggests. “If it divides by zero and the computer stops working – you’re in big trouble. If your heart pacemaker divides by zero, you’re dead.”

But Dr Anderson has come up with a theory that proposes a new number – ‘nullity’ – which sits outside the conventional number line (stretching from negative infinity, through zero, to positive infinity).

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