Here's how to deal with those badly written equations you find online

Asia's Tech News Daily

Spend enough time on social media and it’s likely that you’ll see what I’ve started to call a Bad Math Scam. This is where an account, looking to juice their engagement figures, posts an equation with a challenge for people to solve it. Often, it’ll say something like “Only ‘80s Kids Can Do This” or “Brain Power Challenge: Can You Do This Without a Calculator?”. The only problem is that the equation is so ambiguously-written that you can come up with multiple answers.

Here’s how to deal with those badly written equations you find online

Here’s one that I found floating around the internet a couple of days ago from an account that seems to re-share a lot of existing content in the hope of going viral. The tweet reads (in true viral bait style) “Please don’t use a Calculator, use your BRAIN: 50+50 – 25 x 0 + 2 + 2 = ??”.

Please don’t use a Calculator, use your BRAIN:

50 + 50 – 25 x 0 + 2 + 2 = ??

— Sonia 💙 (@Sonia_ar7) October 1, 2021

Now, the equation is sufficiently ambiguous in its design that, depending on how you tackle it, it produces a number of different answers. In this instance, users concluded that the answer was definitely 0, 4, 79 or 104. The subsequent chat often breaks out into some discussion about how Order of Operations work and how stupid the other people are. Between argument, counter-argument, and people smugly retweeting about how other people didn’t pay attention to high school math, the original poster has succeeded in getting their engagement.

Here’s how to deal with those badly written equations you find online
© C. Devan via Getty Images

But there is a solution, and a neat way of arriving at the correct answer both for this problem and for any others you see online. And I’ve enlisted the help of a mathematician to help explain it so that this sort of viral bait never trips you up ever again. Especially if you don’t recall your PEMDAS (or BODMAS, if you were raised on the other side of the pond) from high school math.

Dr. Helen Crowley is lecturer in mathematics at the University of East Anglia, and took issue with how I’d described the equation. “The problem shared [above] is not actually ambiguous at all,” she said, “maths is a very well-behaved subject and there are fixed rules that all problems like this follow.” Dr. Crowley is, of course, referring to the Order of Operations, which explains how a multi-part equation like the one above is meant to be broken down and worked out.

In the US and UK, Order of Operations is expressed under the acronyms PEMDAS (US) or BODMAS (UK). The terms may differ, but the order in which you calculate each component part of the equation remains the same. You start with anything in Parentheses / Brackets, and then move on to anything using Exponents / Orders, which are figures including square-roots and powers. The equation above, uses neither.

Third in the list is Multiplication and Division, which is the first function that we actually need to do. “For this problem, we [first] do 25 x 0 = 0,” said Dr. Crowley. That 0 then inserts itself into the sum, which now looks like 50 + 50 – 0 + 2 + 2. “The last two operations to consider are Addition and Subtraction,” said Dr. Crowley, making the final sum 50 + 50 – 0 + 2 + 2 = 104. “This is exactly what your calculator does, as it is programmed to ‘know’ the order,” said Dr. Crowley, “the above problem certainly isn’t ambiguous, we are just forgetting the rules.”

Now, you may be wondering who was in charge of establishing this order, and when that may have happened. According to the UEA’s Dr. Mark Cooker, the current Order of Operations was probably first laid down in their current form in the middle of the 16th century. Before that point, “manuscripts were wholly wordy, and free from operational symbols, except abbreviations,” said Dr. Cooker. But from the mid-16th century onwards, math texts “were first printed in large numbers for education.”

Cooker then believes that it was the wide-ranging influence of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London that “set new high standards to reduce ambiguity in handling powers, brackets and multiplications or additions, in the correct order.” He said that the journal, as it would now be described, “spread higher standards of maths typography as far afield as St. Petersburg, where Leonard Euler was working.” Euler was one of the most pioneering mathematicians of the 18th century, who “published so many papers and influential textbooks,” along with “clear explanations of BODMAS rules in his elementary texts must have made everyone agree on the current order of operations.”

Now that you know how to solve those crappy equations people post on social media, don’t forget to share a link to this story to serve as a bulwark against folks cynically trying to juice their engagement.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related

OTHER NEWS

AWS re:Invent 2021 keynote live blog

Refresh 2021-11-29T17:22:56.100Z (Image credit: Future / Mike Moore) This is of course the first in-person AWS re:Invent since 2019, and thousands of attendees, customers and AWS employees have flocked to ... Read more »

Many workers were stuck with barely functional laptops during the pandemic

Poorly performing laptops and an often unresponsive IT department were some of the toughest challenges facing remote and hybrid workers during the pandemic, new research has found. Polling more than ... Read more »

Why I call bullshit on “the Apple Car's” rumored 2025 release

If you’re a fan of “allegedly,” “people close to the source,” and other rumor-inducing phrases — any coverage about the Apple iCar should be your cup of tea. This week, ... Read more »

Elizabeth Holmes testifies alleged sexual assault by former partner influenced her to mislead investors

The former CEO of Theranos, who is charged with falsely claiming to investors that her company had invented a revolutionary blood test, is on trial in the US. Read more »

Twitter suffers outage for web users in India

Twitter on Tuesday faced an outage mostly for its web users in India as they reported problems in gaining access to its website. The outage came as the micro-blogging platform ... Read more »

Twitter CEO Parag Agarwal trolled over this 11-year-old tweet

Parag Agrawal’s appointment as Twitter CEO, which makes him the youngest CEO on S&P 500, means Twitter will have a full-time CEO for the first time in years. Parag Agarwal, ... Read more »

Google to buy power from Orsted's offshore wind farm

Danish offshore wind developer Orsted on Tuesday said it has secured a 12-year power purchase agreement with Google, which aims to power all its data centres and offices using solely ... Read more »

Facebook-owner Meta told to sell Giphy as British regulator blocks acquisition

A panel found that Facebook would be able to increase its already significant market power in relation to other social media platforms. Read more »

Samsung set to compete against TSMC with new foundry in US

Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, speaks with reporters upon arriving at the Seoul Gimpo Business Aviation Center after completing his business trip to the United States, Wednesday. Korea ... Read more »

Hyundai Oilbank, Haldor Topsoe team up for eco-friendly fuels

Hyundai Oilbank and Haldor Topsoe, a Danish company specializing in carbon reduction technologies, signed a memorandum of understanding in early November to develop eco-friendly fuels. Courtesy of Hyundai Oilbank By ... Read more »

BMW iX lineup to upstage Tesla in luxury EV market

The BMW iX / Courtesy of BMW Korea BMW iX pre-orders exceed 2,000, beating out Tesla in luxury EV market By Kim Hyun-bin BMW Korea has launched its flagship EV, ... Read more »

Net regulator hints action against Netflix

Netflix Vice President of Public Policy Dean Garfield speaks at a press conference held at the JW Marriot Hotel Dongdaemun Square Seoul, Nov. 4. Yonhap By Kim Bo-eun Korea’s broadcasting ... Read more »

Philip Morris creates designated vaping areas

Philip Morris established a vaping room at Parc.1 in Seoul. Courtesy of Phillip Morris By Kim Hyun-bin Philip Morris Korea announced that it has created an outdoor smoking area for ... Read more »

Lenovo retains lead in global PC market after surprise withdrawal of Shanghai listing

Lenovo Group, the world’s largest personal computer maker, maintained its market leader position globally and at home in the third quarter despite a cancelled blockbuster IPO in Shanghai and a ... Read more »

Linux Foundation launches quantum computing alliance to drive interoperability

The Linux Foundation has announced a new joint effort to help facilitate interoperability within the quantum computing ecosystem. Dubbed Quantum Intermediate Representation (QIR), the alliance is part of the Linux ... Read more »

GOG.com goes back to its roots with ‘handpicked' library of DRM-free games

We’ve just heard that GOG.com is losing money and has decided to change tack as a result, going back to its roots. The digital store, which is owned by CD ... Read more »

Grab this Bose QuietComfort Cyber Monday deal while you still can

Cyber Monday is drawing to a close, but there are still some fantastic headphones deals to take advantage of – and this excellent Bose discount has caught our eye in ... Read more »

Susanna Reid wows viewers with jaw-dropping look – as co-stars make cheeky comments

Susanna Reid wowed viewers on Tuesday morning's episode of Good Morning Britain with her festive look – and even her co-stars had some comments to make! MORE: Susanna Reid recalls ... Read more »

These Are The Symptoms Of The Omicron Variant We Know So Far

Though the Omicron variant has dominated news stories this week around the world, little is known about its implications on the individual so far in the UK. But a doctor, ... Read more »

Labour Set To Back Call To Dock Boris Johnson's Pay By More Than £40,000

Ian Blackford claimed Boris Johnson was ‘not fit for office’. (Photo: House of Commons – PA Images via Getty Images) Labour will support an SNP no confidence motion in Boris ... Read more »

Late Cyber Monday deal knocks $250 off a HP Chromebook at Best Buy

HP has a great selection of Chromebooks, especially if you’re planning on using one for college work, and this one is no different at Best Buy, as part of this ... Read more »

Best Usenet providers of 2021

The best Usenet providers help you better connect with the sites and groups and files that you need. Usenet newsgroups have been around since the dawn of the internet as ... Read more »

A ‘Bitcoin City' in El Salvador inspired by ancient Greeks? Here's a reality check.

From the risk that cryptocurrency lead to "a paradise for money laundering," experts say, to the difficulties of building a city from scratch. Read more »

Chinese spies are targeting the UK, warns MI6 chief

Chinese intelligence is mounting “large-scale” espionage operations against the UK and its allies as it attempts to steal technology and distort political decision-making, the chief of MI6 has warned. In ... Read more »

EasySplitter Pro Vocal Remover makes it simple to hack any track

TLDR: EasySplitter Pro Vocal Remover makes it simple to isolate song elements to create your own music, karaoke tracks, or just listen to acapella versions on your favorite songs. Maybe ... Read more »

This solar generator set can power your home for up to a week. And it's an extra 20% off right now

TLDR: Get prepared for anytime the power goes out with the Generark backup battery and solar power tandem, now at a special Cyber Monday price. It’s a crazy world out ... Read more »

Hundreds of thousands of Android users infected by banking malware hosted on Play Store

In another instance of threat actors sneaking malware-ridden apps past Google’s threat detection filters, cybersecurity researchers have revealed that over 300,000 users have downloaded malicious Android apps containing banking trojans. ... Read more »

Ruined King: A League of Legends Story is for both LoL and RPG fans

Ruined King: A League of Legends Story was released to the surprise of many on 17 November, after almost a year of silence from publisher Riot Forge since the game ... Read more »

India to have 500 million 5G subscriptions by 2027-end, claims report

5G is on track to become the dominant mobile access technology in terms of subscriptions globally by 2027 with 5G representing around 39 per cent of mobile subscriptions or 500 ... Read more »

Auto executives expect EVs will own half of US, China markets by 2030: Survey

Auto industry executives expect electric vehicles will make up just over half of new vehicle sales in the United States and China by 2030, and could do so without receiving ... Read more »

Australia to announce new enquiry into behaviour of Big Tech

Australia‘s Prime Minister Scott Morrison will on Wednesday announce a parliamentary inquiry into the behaviour of the world’s largest technology companies and the need for new legislation. Australia has led ... Read more »

Meta ordered by UK competition watchdog to sell off Giphy

The United Kingdom’s antitrust watchdog has blocked Facebook’s acquisition of Giphy and ordered the social network to sell off the GIF-sharing platform, saying the deal hurts social media users and ... Read more »

COVID-19: What coronavirus rules came into force in England today?

Fresh measures designed to deal with the emergence of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron have come into force in England. Read more »

TFL crisis latest: Sadiq Khan admits entire Tube line may have to close

(PA) Sadiq Khan on Tuesday admitted an entire Tube line may have to close as a result of Transport for London’s financial crisis. The Mayor said axing one of the ... Read more »

Omicron: Confusion as government tells public to ignore top UK health official's Christmas COVID guidance

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, says people should not socialise unnecessarily before Christmas. (PA) The government has flatly contradicted COVID guidance from one of ... Read more »

Omicron symptoms: What to look out for as doctor says new Covid variant completely different to Delta

A doctor in South Africa, one of the first persons to suspect the emergence of a different virus strain, assured that the symptoms of Omicron are “mild,” amid rising concerns ... Read more »

France accuses UK of ‘quasi-modern slavery' as new Channel crisis proposals put forward

A senior French minister has accused the UK of an economic model of “quasi-modern slavery” amid the ongoing row over small boat crossings in the English Channel. France’s Europe minister ... Read more »

Facebook ordered to sell Giphy by competition watchdog

Facebook has been ordered to sell the animated gif service Giphy by the competition watchdog in its biggest intervention against a Silicon Valley giant yet. © Provided by The Telegraph ... Read more »

Astronomers uncover closest pair of supermassive black holes yet

Astronomers have observed the closest pair of supermassive black holes to Earth ever seen. There is much less separation between the two objects than any other pair than has previously ... Read more »

How to make Windows 11 look like Windows 7

Windows 11 not only brought a great new selection of features, tools and apps, but also a completely new look. The redesign introduced by Microsoft is not to everyone’s tastes ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic