Only 60% of the adults, between the ages of 20 and 30, in the country, were able to solve the problem correctly in recent years.
There are very few people who can honestly say that mathematics was their favorite subject growing up. But even then most of us are not that afraid of taking on a simple math problem, are we? It's true that there's been significant atrophy in my math skills compared to the time I was in high school, that's how it is for most people. Turns out this decline became a worrisome issue for people in Japan after they noticed a drop in the accuracy rate of solving the same question by different batches.
According to Sora New 24, a study published in Japan revealed that only 60% of the adults, between the ages of 20 and 30, in the country were to solve the problem correctly. Now, there's no special meaning or story behind this particular equation apart from the shocking fact that the success rate decreased after it began in the 1980s. Back then 90% of the people in the same age group were able to solve the question correctly.
As expected, it baffled everyone as they began wondering what had brought about this decline. It seems that the best way to get this answer is to try your hand at solving the problem. We may have very well missed out on it if it wasn't for a YouTube channel called MindYourDecisions, which released a video talking about it back in 2016. Take a look at the equation below:
Before we talk about how the question works, try to solve it?
Hopefully, you didn't say 3! Of course, that's the wrong answer but I'm still hopeful that you will be able to get the answer if you know the logic behind it. If you came to the conclusion of 3 by subtracting 3 from 9 and dividing the remainder by 3 and adding 1 to it, then you must have forgotten the concept of PEDMAS. This sum is an excellent example of why we need to follow the given order of operations.
That being said, this was not the mistake that most of 40% of the young Japanese adults made while answering the equation incorrectly. The reason being, most of them had arrived at the 9. If you have googled the problem or entered it in your calculator you might be a little confused by the answer. Turns out both Google and member of the 40% were wrong not because they have become dumber but it was due to the way they read the equation itself.
The YouTube video explains how we see the problem as 3 divided by one-third but while entering it in our calculator, we type 3÷1/3. Because of this, the ÷ sign gets converted into a division slash and the equation becomes 3/1/3. On solving 9-3/1/3+1 using PEDMAS we get 9. Click here to see the full solution of this form. To solve it correctly, we need to use brackets to ensure that the one-third fraction is solved remains that way.
"30 years or so ago, it was generally understood that the “1/3” part of the problem wasn’t to be read as “one-third,” but instead indicates that you need to divide," reports Soran News. Here's the correct form of the equation that should be entered to get the accurate answer: