A simple Math problem has gone viral on the internet. The problem looks easy to solve but most people get it wrong due to an older simplification method that was previously taught in schools.
Though it first appeared on the internet in 2016, the problem is once again doing the rounds after it was re-posted on social media.
The problem can be solved only by applying the correct order of mathematical operations.
Children are usually taught the operational order by acronyms of the steps involved such as BODMAS/BOMDAS or PEDMAS/PEMDAS.
Some schools also use a popular mnemonic ‘Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally,’ which dictates the simplification order to be: parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction.
So, the first step should be:
Everyone agrees until here. The next step, however, is where people differ.
The modern scientific calculators consider parentheses as an implicit multiplication operation. So, according to this rule, here’s what the problem will look like:
And since multiplication holds the same value in operational order as that of division, anyone would simply calculate the problem from left to right, meaning:
The final answer, according to this procedure, would be 9.
Many users have been claiming that the answer is 1. And it seems, they also have strong logic to support their claim.
According to YouTube channel MindYourDecisions, the answer would be 1 due to a historical perspective.
The channel, dedicated to everything related to Mathematics, says the order of operations was different until 1917 than what it is today.
Using that method, the parentheses should be solved first but the second step would be different.
The rule from historical textbooks says when a division symbol appears, the entire product of the left should be divided by the entire product of the right.
Following this rule, we would first find the product of the right side, giving the final answer as:
The channel says the historical rule was created to avoid a fraction format otherwise it would have taken up a lot of space in older typesettings.
The video uploaded on MindYourDecisions has been viewed more than 11 million times, with people around the world sharing their thoughts in the comment section.
“Moral of the story: the division symbol is awful, and you shouldn’t use it,” one user said.
One person wrote: “Thank God I’m a Social Worker and not a Mathematician,” while another suggested: “No serious mathematician uses the symbol ÷ anyway because it is largely ambiguous.”
What do you think is the right answer? Is it 9 or 1? Let us know in the comments section and SHARE this with your friends and family!