What does '8 ÷ 2(2 + 2)' equal? The internet is divided over this viral maths tweet

31 July 2019, 17:18

Sam  Prance

By Sam Prance

The math equation '8 ÷ 2(2 + 2)' has gone viral because people get two different answers.

Mathletes assemble. A new maths sum has gone viral. Everyone is fighting over the answer to '8 ÷ 2(2 + 2)'.

Every now and then the internet makes you question something which you do without thinking. In January, we were all made to reconsider how we write the letter 'x'. There are eight different ways, apparently. In May, we were asked if we wash our legs. Way too many of you don't. Then in June, we were forced to reflect on how we add up numbers in our head. There are hundreds of methods to work out a sum as simple as '27+48'. Everything we thought we knew is a lie.

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How do you add up "27+48"? The internet is losing it over this viral maths tweet

Now another equation is breaking the internet because no one knows what '8 ÷ 2(2 + 2)' equals.

What is the actual answer to '8 ÷ 2(2 + 2)'?

What does "8 ÷ 2(2+2)" equal? The viral maths sum explained
What does "8 ÷ 2(2+2)" equal? The viral maths sum explained. Picture: Paramount Pictures // TV Globo

The question went viral yesterday when @pjmdolI tweeted: "oomfies solve this" alongside an image of the sum '8 ÷ 2(2 + 2)'. The tweet immediately had thousands of replies and retweets with people with maths degrees wading in.

Two main answers came out of it: 1 and 16. One person wrote: "1. The amount of people saying 16 need to retake math" and another replied: "took 3 calc classes, differential equations and linear algebra, it's 16 bro". Who's right though?

People who get 1 believe that you have to work out all of the brackets stuff first. So you do '2 + 2' and the sum simplifies to '8 ÷ 2(4)'. You then still have brackets so you have to do '2 x 4' before continuing on. This gives you '8 ÷ 8' which equals 1.

However, those who get 16 believe that when you get to '8 ÷ 2(4)', you do '8 ÷ 2' first because they're both outside of the brackets. This gives you 4(4) which equals 16. This is getting very confusing, right?

What does "8 ÷ (2 x 4)" equal? The viral maths sum poll
What does "8 ÷ (2 x 4)" equal? The viral maths sum poll. Picture: @neworlean via Twitter

Some people use the PEMDAS method (in the US this means Parentheses, Exponents, Multiply, Divide, Add, Subtract) and others use BODMAS (in the UK this means Brackets, Order, Division, Multiplication, Addition, Subtraction). Both methods mean the same thing though because division and multiplication are paired together. Addition and subtraction are also paired together too. Essentially, PEMDAS is also PEDMSA and BODMAS is also BOMDSA.

Frustratingly, the right answer literally depends on how you were taught and it all comes down to whether you think you should work out '2(4)' first or '8 ÷ 2'.

If you type the sum into Google it says that the answer is 16 but, in a poll of over 234,000 people on Twitter, 59% voted for '1'. Certain calculators say 16. Others say 1. According to an anonymous Oxford University professor, who spoke to The Mirror: "There isn't one correct answer. The equation has been ambiguously written, leaving it open to interpretation".

Essentially, when Cady Heron stated in Mean Girls that she loved maths because "it's the same in every country", she lied.

What do you think? Are you team 1 or team 16?