Simple Math Problem Goes Viral Because Nobody Can Agree On An Answer

I hate math. I use a tip calculator at restaurants. I married a mathematician partially so I would never have to do math again. Even the thought of writing about math makes me break out in a sweat. But here we are. Thanks, Internet. 

What’s the answer? No one seems to be able to agree. To be honest, I didn’t even try. I called my husband on the phone crying and asked him what he thought. He said the answer was 16 and explained that according to the order of operations (PEMDAS), multiplying and dividing are one step and adding and subtracting are one step and supposed to be performed in order of left to right. 

So, the answer is 16, right? 

I don’t know. I failed the same math test four times in college. But my husband is a human calculator, and I trust him.

The math equation went viral as Twitter users had an absolute meltdown trying to figure out what the correct answer is. Some said 16 was the right solution — but others explained that 1 was actually the answer. 

Is Math Twitter a thing now?

So what is the right answer? 

Mashable noted that “the way you go about solving it […] depends on where in the world you learned math. If you use PEMDAS, the order of the equation is Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction. But if you were raised on the BODMAS method, then the order is Brackets, Orders, Division, Multiplication, Addition, Subtraction.” 

But that doesn’t make sense. As this tweet helpfully points out, multiplication and division are “of the same order level,” which it seems like people forgot (not judging here, I still count on my fingers sometimes).

So it’s not a geographical thing. 

Honestly, I don’t care what the answer is. It’s refreshing to see people engaging in battles over math equations online. So, whether or not you think the answer is 1 or 16, keep up the wholesome math jabs and theoretical whimsy.

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