Mind-boggling maths equation divides internet as people argue over right answer

By Mirror | Thursday, Aug 1st 2019 at 12:39
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If you consider yourself somewhat of a mathematics whizz, then boy have I got an equation for you.

Thousands of Twitter users across the globe are currently arguing over the correct answer to a math question.

And it turns out that the way you've been taught algebra could impact the outcome of the sum.

Depending on the method you use to solve the problem, there seems to be two possible answers to the question - but which one is the right one?

The drama all started when a girl called Em, who posts under the username @pjmdoll, shared a tweet instructing her followers to: "Solve this".

Alongside this she shared a cartoon of a classroom with an equation written on the blackboard.

The math problem reads: 8 ÷ 2 (2+2) = ?

More than 7,800 people have liked her tweet with over 8,000 responding with answers.

The two most common answers people on Twitter reached are one and 16.

These different answers have caused a heated debate to break out online - with even the likes of Queer Eye's Bobby Berk getting involved to have his say.

The TV star retweeted Em's post, saying: "It's 16 y'all."

Some agreed with him, but others claimed he was wrong.

"Bobbers.... it’s one," said a fan.

Another proclaimed: "Anything other than one is absolutely wrong."

Well, it seems those who followed a BODMAS method of working got 16 and those using PEMDAS got one.

Bodmas sees people working out by breaking things down to follow brackets, orders, division/multiplication, addition/subtraction.

While PEMDAS does things in order of parenthesis, exponents, multiplication/division, addition/subtraction.

Eventually some people gave up trying to work it out for themselves and turned to "the dad of all calculators" AKA Google Calculator to find out the answer.

The online tool says it's 16. Which was good enough for a lot of people.

However, we decided to seek out an expert, to find out what was really going on.

A mathematics professor from Oxford University, who wished to remain anonymous, explained that there isn't one correct answer - as the equation has been ambiguously written, leaving it open to interpretation.

They said: "Without better brackets, there can be ambiguity. There are conventions about the order of operations to try to resolve this, sometimes called BODMAS in UK schools. 

"If it still seems unclear, it's best to include brackets to remove any possible ambiguity. Mathematicians do not generally have problems communicating with each other about things like this, but for whatever reason people seem to enjoy posing these kinds of problems on social media!"

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