# Math problem, but I think it is more appropriate here

• Averagesupernova
In summary, the conversation discusses a math problem that has been circulating on the internet, with conflicting answers of 1 and 9. The problem is written in a way that is ambiguous, leading to different interpretations and causing frustration for many. Some suggest using LaTeX notation to make the problem clearer. Overall, the conversation highlights the importance of using proper mathematical notation and following the rules of precedence.
Averagesupernova
Gold Member
This problem is floating around the web:
6 / 2(1+2)
A disappointing number of replies say the answer is 9. Where I come from the answer is 1. Now I will be the first to admit that I maybe I am wrong. But what is disheartening is the number of people that are on each side of the fence. If one out of 10 said the answer was 1 I would question my own answer more than I have. Or, conversely if one out of 10 said the answer was 9. But no matter how you slice it there are enough people with wrong answers out there that it really disappoints me.

Logically it's 9. Typographically it may be 1. If I thought "/" means "times seven" then it'd be 1,764 I think.

There's a good article here on PF that a mod wrote that talks about this type of thing floating around. I can't find it at the moment. Here's another: https://www.wyzant.com/resources/blogs/236411/the_order_of_operations_pemdas_bodmas_that_you_learned_in_elementary_school_is_wrong

IMO these things are written badly on purpose, and are mostly a waste of time.

fresh_42
The way I see it is if you replace the 2 inside the parenthesis with an X and assign either 1 or 9 to the other side of the equation and solve what will X be? This would be a pretty basic algebra problem that everyone would agree on. Yet when it is presented as I showed in the first post it is unacceptable?
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If a mod thinks this should be moved I would have no problem with it.

Averagesupernova said:
The way I see it is if you replace the 2 inside the parenthesis with an X and assign either 1 or 9 to the other side of the equation and solve what will X be?
There is no "other side to the equation." What you wrote is an expression, not an equation. An equation always has = in it.
Averagesupernova said:
This would be a pretty basic algebra problem that everyone would agree on. Yet when it is presented as I showed in the first post it is unacceptable?
With or without x, the expression is still ambiguous.

Averagesupernova said:
The way I see it is if you replace the 2 inside the parenthesis with an X and assign either 1 or 9 to the other side of the equation and solve what will X be? This would be a pretty basic algebra problem that everyone would agree on. Yet when it is presented as I showed in the first post it is unacceptable?
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If a mod thinks this should be moved I would have no problem with it.

I think part of what makes this and other problems look ambiguous is the single line notation we resort to when using text only as a means of writing. Now watch me be Mr. Fancypants and use LaTex:

## \frac{6}{2(1+2)} ##

ooh now it's pretty. It's also a lot less confusing, and I imagine that semi-numerate people would get the same answer if it were written that way. In fact when it's written like this I'd probably cancel the 2, turn the 6 into a 3, then I'd have ## \frac{3}{3} ## which is easier for me.

(Of course, this is looking elementary now, but with bigger numbers especially you could see the advantage).

-Dave K

Averagesupernova said:
This problem is floating around the web:
6 / 2(1+2)
A disappointing number of replies say the answer is 9. Where I come from the answer is 1.
If it is written as ##\frac 6 {2(1 + 2)}## then I would agree that this simplifies to 1.

As written, though, most would say that this simplifies to 9, according to the usual rules of precedence.
Averagesupernova said:
Now I will be the first to admit that I maybe I am wrong. But what is disheartening is the number of people that are on each side of the fence. If one out of 10 said the answer was 1 I would question my own answer more than I have. Or, conversely if one out of 10 said the answer was 9. But no matter how you slice it there are enough people with wrong answers out there that it really disappoints me.

## 1. What is the difference between a math problem and a scientific problem?

A math problem typically involves using equations and mathematical concepts to find a numerical solution, while a scientific problem involves using the scientific method to gather and analyze data in order to answer a question or solve a problem.

## 2. What makes a math problem more appropriate for the mathematics field rather than the scientific field?

A math problem typically deals with abstract concepts and numerical calculations, while a scientific problem deals with real-world phenomena and requires experimentation and observation.

## 3. Can a math problem be solved using the scientific method?

While the scientific method is not typically used to solve math problems, it can be applied in certain situations, such as in mathematical modeling or data analysis.

## 4. How do scientists use math in their research?

Scientists use math in a variety of ways, such as creating mathematical models to represent real-world phenomena, analyzing data using statistical methods, and using mathematical equations to make predictions and test hypotheses.

## 5. Is math considered a science?

Math is often considered a separate discipline from science, as it deals with abstract concepts and does not rely on experimentation or observation. However, math is often used in scientific research and can be considered a tool for scientific inquiry.

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