7 Simple Math Equations That Went Viral and Divided the Internet

A famous YouTube mathematician is preaching the importance of BODMAS.
Chris Young

Every now and then a mathematics problem is shared online that goes viral due, in large part, to the fact that it seems no one can agree on the answer

Great minds come together, and still, their calculations do not provide the same results. Here are the real answers to some of the equations that have had Internet users collectively scratching their heads.


8 ÷ 2 (2 + 2) = ? 

Is the answer 16, or is it 1

The equation went viral after Twitter user @pjmdolI posted it over the summer.

As per Insider, those who got 1 as the answer were using an outdated version of the order of operations.

Here is a detailed description from MindYourDecisions on YouTube.

9 - 3 ÷ 1/3 + 1 = ? 

In 2016, a test found that only 60% of Japanese 20-year-olds were able to solve this equation, down from 90% in the 80s.

Once again, the problem stems from the order of operations.

The most common mistake, Presh Talkwalkar of MindYourDecision and author of The Joy of Game Theory says, is writing the 1/3 without parentheses when people use a calculator to solve it.

6^2 ÷ 2(3) + 4 = ?

Is it 10 or is it 58?

Two different ways of calculating the answer provide different results.

Source: (screen capture) MindYourDecisions/YouTube

Once again, as GeniusInsomniac points out (video below), the moral of the story is the importance of knowing the correct order of operations.

It goes like this: parentheses, exponents, multiplication and/or division (whichever comes first), addition and/or subtraction (whichever comes first).

6 - 1 x 0 + 2 ÷ 2 = ?

Once again, Presh Talwalkar settles the math debate. A seemingly simple math problem had people strongly disagreeing over whether the answer was 7 or 1.

The correct answer is 7. Why? You guessed it: the order of operations.

60 ÷ 5 (7 - 5) = ?

Talwalkar points out that the above equation provides different results depending on what calculator is used.

The unambiguous answer, he says, is 24, based on the modern interpretation of PEMDAS/BODMAS.

230 - 220 ÷ 2 = ?

Of course, answers are not always clear cut. Much in the same way that language can be interpreted in different ways, so can math problems.

That's why a math Ph.D. professor and Presh Talwalkar from MindYourDecisions came up with different answers to this problem. Talwalkar said 120 and the Ph.D. professor said 5.

7 + 7 ÷ 7 + 7 x 7 - 7 = ?

Yet another lesson in order of operations. This equation really brings it down to the basics. 

Source: (screen capture) MindYourDecisions/YouTube

Talwalkar emphasizes the importance of the acronyms PEMDAS or BODMAS for remembering the correct order.