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Millions are scratching their heads over this ‘basic’ math puzzle

Math wasn’t always my cup of tea. I was the kind of kid who preferred daydreaming and literature over numbers.

But then, I stumbled upon the beauty of statistics, and suddenly, numbers started to make sense.
It seems I’m not alone in this newfound appreciation for math, especially when it comes to intriguing problems that get people talking.

There’s this math problem that’s been making waves online recently.
It first popped up in 2016, but it’s back again, stirring up quite the debate.

It looks simple enough at first glance, but it’s actually tripping up a lot of people.

The confusion seems to stem from an outdated method that many of us learned in school.

To crack this problem, you need to remember the order of operations.

Most of us were taught this with acronyms like PEDMAS or BODMAS, or the ‘Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.’

This means we tackle parentheses first, then exponents, followed by multiplication and division, and finally, addition and subtraction.

So, the first step is to handle the parentheses.

This part is straightforward and doesn’t cause much disagreement.

But it’s the next step that really gets people divided.

Modern scientific calculators interpret the parentheses as an implicit multiplication.

Since multiplication and division are of equal importance in the order of operations, we simply work from left to right.

After following these steps, we arrive at our answer.

But here’s where it gets interesting: a lot of people insist that the answer is 1, not 9.

The MindYourDecisions YouTube channel explains that before 1917, the order of operations was understood differently.

Back then, if you encountered a division symbol, you’d divide the entire left side by the entire right side.

This historical method changes the game.
You’d calculate the product on the right side first.

MindYourDecisions suggests that this old rule was probably due to typesetting limitations.

It was simpler to use a division symbol than to write out long fractions or add multiple parentheses.

So, while the correct answer by today’s standards is 9, there’s a historical argument for the answer being 1.

The MindYourDecisions video on this topic has racked up over 11 million views.

It goes to show that even a simple math problem can spark a big debate.

See this unexpectedly intriguing explanation in the video below!

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