Mathematics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people studying math at any level and professionals in related fields. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

In the equation:

$$5 \times 100 / 1$$

You see that $5$ over $1$ is a $500\%$ increase. How would I show the percent of increase over zero? Thank you.

share|cite|improve this question
Sorry if this is a stupid question. I am just asking if it is possible to show a percent of increase over zero. I see that I cannot divide by zero, so is it not possible? – user1477388 Oct 30 '12 at 14:42
If originally you had zero piece of something, then you get 2 of these something, then the increase is $\infty\%$. Is it what you're asking? – Berci Oct 30 '12 at 14:44
Yes, that is what I'm asking. It's hard for me to understand "infinite %." Aren't zero and one only one digit from each other? How can 0 be infinite % from 5 when 1 is 500% from 5? – user1477388 Oct 30 '12 at 14:48
Question: 5 is what percent increase over 0 ? This is a division problem with divisor 0. Not allowed. Any percent increase of zero is still zero. Sometimes a guy I know (who is a volunteer worker, unpaid) says "I want a raise" and the boss says "I'll double your salary" and we all laugh. – GEdgar Oct 30 '12 at 14:56
Thanks to everyone for helping me understand :) – user1477388 Oct 30 '12 at 14:59
up vote 1 down vote accepted

$500$% increase means that provided that you previously had $x$ amount of something, then it became $5$ times itself.

$500$% increase 'over $0$' thus means that you had $x=0$, and finally it became $5x$ which is still $0$.

Increase from $0$, hence is not measured well by the ratio of increasement, but the increasement itself. And, percentage can describe only ratios.

share|cite|improve this answer
Question, and this is me speaking as a German, thus not 100% familiar with the English language: Wouldn't a 500% increase mean something goes from 1 -> 6? It's increased by 5, which is 500% of the original value. I would understand if someone says "we performed 5 times better", but increased by 4 times. – SinisterMJ Nov 20 '12 at 13:31

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.