News ID: 313987
Published: 0927 GMT June 18, 2021

Simple maths question so divisive it has even confused calculators

Simple maths question so divisive it has even confused calculators
The simple question has a different answer depending on where you are in the world.

A seemingly simple maths equation has left the Internet completely divided.

Social media users have been left split in two by the maths problem shared on Twitter, wrote.

On the platform, @pjmdoll asked: "oomfies solve this," alongside the problem: 8 ÷ 2(2 + 2) = ?

They added: "I do parenthesis, multiplication, then division so I believe it's 1. I see so apparently division comes first... this is why I didn't do well in math okay."

But nobody can seem to agree on the answer with half of people saying '1' is correct, but the others pointing out it's '16'.

One Twitter user said: "[It's] 1. The amount of people saying 16 need to retake math.

"I have 2 math degrees, it's 1," said another.

And a second agreed, saying: "8÷2(2x2) = 8÷2(4) = 8÷8 = 1 = Answer is 1. Solved Via "BODMAS" Rule : (B racket) O( f ) D÷ ivision M x ultiplication A+ dditional S-ubtraction."

The tweet has racked up nearly 20,000 retweets – and thousands of likes too.

Another said: "You do not need any acronyms to evaluate 8 ÷ 2(2+2), the result is the same whether you do the + first or the ÷ first.

"Just follow these conventions: 1. Do the parenthesis, 2. Do from Left to Right. The correct result is then 4 X 4 = 16. No memorization of acronyms."

And another wrote: "The correct answer is 16. When the problem is at 8/2(4), You have to calculate from left to right because multiplication and division have the same precedence. So 8/2 first and then 4(4)=16. Just remember the left to right rule, which is a rule a lot of people forget."

Feeling confused? We asked the Senior Education Consultant at virtual tutoring company Maths-Whizz why this seemingly simple sum is dividing social media.

It turns out it's a question of where you're from rather than whether you can work it out or not, explains Fiona Goddard.

While the BODMAS (Brackets, Orders, Division, Multiplication, Addition, Subtraction) method is commonly taught here in the UK, in America many use the PEMDAS method (Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction).

She said: "It boils down to us all having to agree to play by the same rules governing 'the order of operations, as in this calculation, we are faced with several mathematical operations to perform – to evaluate expressions in brackets, carry out multiplications or divisions, or do additions or subtractions – the order in which we do them can make a huge difference.

"When confronted with 8 ÷ 2(2+2), everyone on Twitter agreed that the 2+2 in brackets should be evaluated first. Of course, 2+2 = 4. So the question boils down to 8÷2×4.

"Now comes the split as we are faced with a division and a multiplication, which one takes priority?

"Frustratingly, the right answer literally depends on how you were taught and it all comes down to whether you think you should work out '2(4)' first or '8 ÷ 2'.

"If you use the PEMDAS method (a more US method), the order of the equation is Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction. But if you use the BODMAS method (more often taught in the UK), then the order is Brackets, Orders, Division, Multiplication, Addition, Subtraction.

"Hence, giving you different answers. Some calculators say 16, but some say 1 – even the machines don't have a definitive answer!"


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