Viral math problems have been known to divide the internet and the latest viral problem shared by Twitter user @pjmdoll has done just that.
The equation is: 8 ÷ 2(2 + 2) = ?
Some social media users are arguing that the answer is 1 while others say it’s 16. And, these drastically different answers come from how math was taught in your school.
Presh Talwalker, the author of “The Joy of Game Theory: An Introduction to Strategic Thinking,” explained the controversy Wednesday in a video posted to his YouTube channel.
According to Talwalker, the confusion stems from a difference between modern and older interpretations of the order of operations, known as PEMDAS.
- Multiplication and Division (left to right)
- Addition and Subtraction (left to right)
Those who got the number 1 as the solution to this problem were using the older version of the order of operations in which you multiply 2(4) first and then divide 8 by 8.
Those who got 16 as the answer used the more modern interpretation of the order of operations in which you divide 8 by 2 first and then multiply 4(4).
He also says that the problem is causing confusion because of how the division symbol is ambiguously placed in the problem.
You can watch Talwalker’s full explanation of the equation below: