8÷2(2+2) = ?
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8÷2(2+2) = ?, sometimes written as 8/2(2+2), is an ambiguous algebraic equation that was widely circulated online in late July 2019. On Twitter, the most common answers to the problem were one and 16, causing lengthy debates between the users over how to identify the correct order of operations.
On July 28th, 2019, Twitter user @pjmdoll shared a picture of the equation edited into a still from the movie The Last: Naruto the Movie and captioned the image "oomfies solve this" (shown below). The tweet gained over 10,400 likes and 2,600 retweets in three days.
On July 28th, 2019, various Twitter users replied with screenshots and images of calculators to prove that the answer was either 16 or one. Many brought up order of operations like PEMDAS or BODMAS. Others like @SoWhAT9000 provided explanations about specific parts of the equation. @SoWhAT9000 tweeted, "But you still have parenthesis. While PEMDAS works from left to right your not considering one of the most important things in math. You can’t not do anything if you don’t get rid of parenthesis first" (shown below, left). The tweet garnered over 1,100 likes and 44 retweets in three days. On July 30th, while many were certain that the answer was either one or 16, Twitter user @NomeDaBarbarian said, "It's either 1 or 16 depending on which mathematician you listen to, because order of operations isn't a hard and fast rule, and math is really just a language. And nothing is true" (shown below, right). The tweet accumulated over 200 likes in a day.
On July 31st, the Mirror cited an Oxford University professor who claimed that,
"without better brackets, there can be ambiguity. There are conventions about the order of operations to try to resolve this, sometimes called BODMAS in UK schools. If it still seems unclear, it's best to include brackets to remove any possible ambiguity. Mathematicians do not generally have problems communicating with each other about things like this, but for whatever reason people seem to enjoy posing these kinds of problems on social media!"
 Twitter – NomeDaBarbarian
 Twitter – SoWhAT9000
 Mirror – Mind-boggling maths equation divides internet as people argue over right answer
Jul 31, 2019 at 07:25PM EDT
Jul 31, 2019 at 07:47PM EDT
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