The viral math question that baffled the internet
The beauty of mathematics is that, unlike other subjects such as English or history, there is usually only one correct answer.
But this question has been baffling people online since it first appeared two years ago that there is not one, but two possible correct answers – and how you answer will depend on how you teach math.
What is 8 ÷ 2 (2 + 2)?
Depending on the method you used to solve the question, your answer will be either one or 16 – and your answer will not be correct.
Your answer will depend on whether you learned math using the PEMDAS or BODMAS method, said Mike Breen, public outreach officer for the American Mathematical Association.
Explain why your answer was different when the confusing equation first appeared in 2019.
“The way it is written is ambiguous. In mathematics [sic], often there is ambiguity. Dr Breen said: “Mathematicians try to make the rules as accurate as possible popular mechanics to me the sun.
The PEMDAS method sees solving equations in parentheses and exponents order, multiplication, division, addition and subtraction.
PEMDAS will see you compute what was inside the parentheses first and then multiply before the last division, which means your answer will be one.
But the BODMAS method means that you’ll solve the question this way instead: parentheses, orders, division, multiplication, addition, and subtraction.
With the BODMAS method, you’ll still put the parentheses first but divide before the multiplication, which means your answer will be 16.
The PEMDAS method is more commonly used in the United States, while Britain and Australia tend to teach BODMAS theory.
So how did you go?