This Math Equation Is Leaving Netizens Puzzled. Can You Solve It?

Written by , Beauty & Lifestyle Enthusiast Chaitra Krishnan Beauty & Lifestyle Enthusiast Experience: 5 years
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Mathematics is a funny language and we’ve always wondered why we were taught so many equations and rules that never helped us solve any of our real life problems. Well, now that the internet is going gaga over tricky Math problems every now and then, you might want to regret not paying attention in Math class back in your school days. All jokes aside, Math is a wonderful and useful subject in many ways (at least for some people) and the viral equations that have taken over the internet is proof to that. Just a couple of days after the ‘230 – 220 x 0.5 = 5’ equation went viral on the internet, here’s a new one to light fire in your brain. “8/2(2+2) =?” — sounds like a very simple equation, isn’t it? We all thought it was until we got to know the real answer. Read on to know more about this brain-racking equation that zombied back from your Algebra classes!

BODMAS And PEMDAS

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Remember BODMAS/ PEMDAS? No? Well, neither did we. But you have to brush up a little on the order of operation keys to find out the answer for the equation. BODMAS stands for Bracket-Order-Division-Multiplication-Addition-Subtraction and PEMDAS stands for Parentheses-Exponent-Multiplication-Division-Addition-Subtraction. These represent the order in which you solve a mathematical equation.

While BODMAS is what’s mostly used by the British, PEMDAS is its American counterpart. However, BODMAS and PEMDAS are believed to be the same. Wait, what? You must be wondering how that’s possible because in PEMDAS, multiplication comes first and division comes next whereas it’s the other way around in BODMAS. Well, brace yourself because division and multiplication are interchangeable according to Mathematicians! Now, we don’t want to get into the details of it, but know that this is the essence.

Solving The Equation

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Now that we’ve refreshed our minds a bit about the order of operation, let’s get back to the viral equation that has left the smartest of the netizens scratching their heads. Let’s take a look at how most of us would solve this equation:

8/2(2+2) = ?

Step 1: 8/2×4= ?

Step 2: 4×4=16

We solved the (2+2) first because that’s what’s inside the brackets and brackets come first according to the BODMAS rule. Now, we divided 8/2 because division comes first according to this rule. And then multiplied the answer 4 by 4 again to get the final answer as 16. Tadaa! The problem is solved. Now, type the equation in your calculator and see if you’ve gotten the right answer or not.

Even if 16 seems to be a pretty easy and clear answer, why is your scientific calculator showing 1?

Now try working the equation in the PEMDAS way:

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8/2(2+2) =?

Step 1: 8/2×4=?

Step 2: 8/8= 1

So we guess those who followed by the PEMDAS rule got it right. But how? Because we thought that BODMAS and PEMDAS are the same? This is the evil beauty of this equation.

Now there’s a second explanation from some people about how the equation turned out to give 1 as the answer.

8/2(2+2) =?

Step 1: 8/ 2(4) =? (Here you retained the bracket after the addition)

Step 2: 8/8=1

After the first step, if you keep the answer 4 within the brackets, you’ll have to do the 2 (4) next to get rid of the “()” according to BODMAS. This is how you get 8/8 and the final answer as 1.  Gosh! Aren’t you grateful that you don’t have to solve algebraic equations at work?

Twitterati is already going crazy trying to solve this equation and there are different answers popping up on the social media site from all over the world. @SoWhAT9000 tweeted:

“You will have to distribute the 2 first to get rid of parenthesis.

8/2(2)

2(2)=8

So now that the parenthesis is no longer on the equation you continue with PEMDAS from left to right

8/8=1

From what I recall the professor saying is multiplication always comes first.”

The Frustrated Netizens

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The equation has not only made people blow their brains out, but also argue with each other to justify their method of problem-solving.

@hidaaya tweeted: “Y’all are so annoying. The P in PEMDAS signifies completing the expression within parenthesis… once that is done you go left to right doesn’t matter if there is an integer embodied in an parenthesis. It doesn’t need further computation. You’re just putting it in () for show.”

To which many users disagreed and obviously lashed out at her including @GeniusUnleashed who replied, “If you typed that whole thing to say that answer isn’t one you don’t understand algebra. 2 x (2+2) is a different equation than 2(2+2). The first doesn’t interact with parenthesis, the second does.”

Now there is a third group of people who stay away from the arguments and are totally confused. Hands (or heads) down we’re in that group too. Now you try to find an explanation for your method of solving this equation and we’ll go put out the fire on our heads.

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