This Deceivingly Simple Math Equation Has Divided The Internet. Can You Solve It?

This Deceivingly Simple Math Equation Has Divided The Internet. Can You Solve It?

There are two answers in particular that many people have arrived at. But how is that possible?

Image Source: Twitter/@pjmdoll

Not many can say that they have loved doing math in school, at least I for one lost interest by the 8th grade. However, simple equations have never been a problem for most of us, and every time a mathematic problem goes viral, we are all set to take it on. The latest puzzle that has got everyone in a doozy and appears to be deceivingly simple. It has left the internet divided and the Twitterverse baffled at the results in the same way people could not seem to agree upon the picture of "the dress." Surely, you remember it? Some said it appeared white and gold, while others thought it was blue and black. Only this time, it isn't a picture and actually requires you to rack your brain to solve the problem.


One user innocently asked people to solve equation '8÷2(2x2) = ?' and Twitter almost immediately erupted with people posting two very conflicting answers to it. Although the problem seems to be something that you might have learned in fourth-grade algebra, it blew everyone's mind. After seeing this problem, I'm sure people who have grown up in the United States would have immediately remembered the "order of operations" as "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally," or P = parentheses, E is exponents, M and D are multiplication and division, and A and S are addition and subtraction. 


So, if we solve the equation based on this formula, first we tackle the parentheses. To solve this I did 2 + 2 = 4. That wasn't so hard now, was it? From here on we see the equation as 8 ÷2 (4) = ? So going by that PEDMAS rule we solve the parentheses yet again and multiplying 2 and 4 leaves us with 8. Now, we have 8÷8, which equals one. Voila, one is the answer! I was so sure that most people might have got the same answer as me. After reading the replies on Twitter, I found that many including the original poster had arrived at one as the answer. Others living in other parts of the world like the U.K. applied the BODMAS rule and ended up with the same answer as me. 


Just when I was about to celebrate by AP Calculus skills, I was surprised to see how many others had come up with a totally different answer. Shockingly, many people arrived at 16. The first step was the same for both groups and after solving the parentheses, they believe they were left with 8 ÷ 2 x 4. Using PEMDAS or BODMAS, some said that the order of operations did not necessarily demand multiplication first and then division. Thus, they explained how multiplication and division have equal hierarchy and that you can solve them in whatever order they appear in an equation. Based on this logic, many Twitter users solved 8 ÷ 2 x 4 like this: 8 divided by 2 is 4. 4 x 4 is 16.


I understand if this seems too confusing because just writing about this is making my brain hurt. Coming back to the frustrating equation, some arrived at one while others got 16 as the answer to it. This was the reason behind the equation's virality and a genuine all-out brawl broke out between the ones and the 16s. Even Berkeley said that the math equation was poorly written and that it was unclear what the real answer was. Does that mean maths is a man-made concept, a fantasy at best?


Recommended for you