# Friday Funny: Yet another Mathematical Challenge for you

It has been a while since I posted a Friday Funny post or a puzzle for you to solve. So today this shall be rectified. Here is something to keep you entertained as I travel to Fargo, ND, USA for the Microsoft Dynamics GP Tech Conference 2017.

The following Mathematical Challenge is one that is causing confusion all over the interwebs and is one which I believe can have two legitimate answers. However I would argue that only one of those two answers is actually correct.

The puzzle is stated as follows:

So what is the answer to:

6 / 2(1+2) = ?

• Please remember to apply Order Of Operations (BODMAS, PEMDAS, BIDMAS, etc.).
• Look carefully at how the question is stated with its spacing and symbols (or lack thereof).
• Do not add your own brackets or multiplication/division symbols as they can change the result.

Feel free to comment with your thoughts on the answer. What are the two answers and which one is correct in your opinion and why?

David

PS: Thanks to my friend Perry for bringing this one to my notice.

## 8 thoughts on “Friday Funny: Yet another Mathematical Challenge for you”

• I asked my 12 and 13 year olds and they both got the same answer I did. So based on that and how I learned in school, the majority of people are wrong but how do you even prove it. I always learned parenthesis, then multiple/divide left to right, then add/subtract left to right.

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• Hi Joyce

Look carefully at where the spaces in the equation are. It will affect what is classified as the denominator in the division and change the result. Also note that there is NOT a multiplication symbol which backs up the order that I am suggesting. Now what do you get?

David

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1. There is no right answer because the equation is written sloppy; no different than a sloppy note because of the implied multiplication.

From wikipeida

“This implicit usage of multiplication can cause ambiguity when the concatenated variables happen to match the name of another variable, when a variable name in front of a parenthesis can be confused with a function name, or in the correct determination of the order of operations.”

Math like the any language can be written were the meaning is ambiguous.

I think there was a SnL sketch 20 years ago where some guy is running a nuclear power plant and his boss is leaving for vacation and says something like “Just remember you can never put too much coolant on the reactor”

What does that mean? Put as much coolant in as possible you as it will harmlessly pass through and its good to use a whole bunch of coolant? Meaning its impossible to put too much coolant.

Or does it mean “Never do that its really dangerous, so careful not to use too much coolant”

The sketch ended with a mushroom cloud !

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• Hi Michael

You are correct that the question is ambiguous, which is why there are two potentially correct answers.

If you use Bing or Google which ignore the white space, or calculate left to right (again ignoring white space) you will get one answer.

If you consider the white space to infer grouping of the denominator you get the other answer…. which I believe to be the correct answer.

David

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