A good Internet debate is what we love. Whether it concerns the color of a dress or the size of an engagement ring, you will never find something more divisive than what is seen in the comments sections of these posts.

One of our current favorites has nothing to do with clothing. It is all about a simple problem that is much more complex than it looks.

The problem is still getting a lot of attention a year after it was introduced by Presh Talwalker. We had an answer within seconds when we first looked at the problem. Did you?

If you guessed 1 then you are wrong.



We know. What a buzzkill, right? Those of you who came up with this answer most likely dug deep into that noggin and dusted off the order of operations that you learned in grade school.

If you were taught to approach equations like this one with the help of either PEMDAS or BODMAS, chances are you did. Once you master it, you will never forget it.

There is a caveat that comes with using this model, which is that division and multiplication have the same precedence, so in a case like this, pupils are instructed to solve the problem from left to right.

It’s all coming back to you now, huh?


If you start from scratch and solve the problem again, you will come up with a different answer. The results of the work will make you question how you did in fourth grade.

We wouldn’t be telling the whole story if we didn’t mention the angry commenters. 12,000 people have liked his video, while another 12,000 have disapproved, which is true to the social network’s contentious nature. We can not make this stuff up.

Talwalker says that most modern calculators don’t take the left-to-right requirement into account. You will get the answer of 1 if you use tools like WolframAlpha. That reduces the blow a bit.

It is time for you to learn the real answer to this seemingly simple equation after we have confused you. To hear the historical significance of this controversy, watch the video below. We don’t know what to think.


If you have some serious math cred, please tell us your thoughts on this incredibly frustrating algebra. What do you think is the correct answer? Did you learn the new order of operations or the old one? Do you know of any other math problems that are controversial?