Can you work out this answer to this maths question that’s left the internet baffled?
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If you love maths then you might very well hate this question that has left the internet stumped for years.

Two years ago, a fairly simple looking question went viral on social media and people have been struggling to decipher a definitive answer ever since because well...there are two different answers.

‘How can there be too different answers?’ You might say. Well, this all depends on how you were taught maths.

So the equation is:


There are one of two possible answers which are 1 and 16 – but the problem is that both answers are technically correct, depending on whether you used the PEMDAS or BODMAS system.

For those that aren’t mathematicians, allow us to explain the difference between the two systems.

PEMDAS: This involves someone solving the equation in this order; parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition and subtraction. This means that you do the brackets equation first, then multiplication and then division. If you use this system then your answer should be 1. This method is commonly used in the United States.

BODMAS: The alternative is this method; brackets, orders, division, multiplication, addition, subtraction. This means you would do the brackets equation first but do the division before the multiplication problem. If you were to do this then your answer would be 16. This method is commonly used in the UK and Australia.

Mike Breen, the Public Awareness Officer for the American Mathematical Society, is quoted by The Sun as saying: “The way it’s written, it’s ambiguous. In math, a lot of times there are ambiguities. Mathematicians try to make rules as precise as possible.”

So well done if you managed to get 1 or 16 as your answer. Unlucky if you got something altogether different.

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