# What's the answer to this confusing maths problem?

• 07/11/2017

A new maths problem has been causing confusion across social media, as commenters argue over what the correct answer is to 6/2 (1+2).

Comments are divided over whether the correct answer is one or nine. However the answer is not quite so simple, as it could technically be either.

Most maths students would be familiar with the term "BEDMAS", which stands for brackets, equation, division multiplication, addition, and subtraction.

According to this the problem can be solved as follows:

6/2 (1+2), 6/2 x (1+2), 6/2 x (3), 3x3, 9.

This answer is considered correct by the establishment, Victoria University of Wellington Associate Professor of Mathematics and Statistics Lisa Clark told Newshub that if the correct order of operations is followed the answer is nine.

Early texts had a less defined order of operations, which could provide a different answer to the maths problem.

Prior to BEDMAS being in common use, there wasn't much consensus over whether to multiply or divide first, in fact A History of Mathematical Notations wrote in 1928-29 "If an arithmetical or algebraical term contains ÷ and ×, there is at present no agreement as to which sign shall be used first."

While BEDMAS forces the user to simplify the brackets, then the division and then multiply historically, maths users could multiply before dividing.

"The most common mistake that people make would lead to the answer 1... This is because people rely on their incorrect intuition and think that multiplication is more 'important' operation - without checking the definition of the order of operations," said University of Auckland lecturer Dr Tanya Evans.

If the user were to multiply and then divide the equation could be solved as follows:

6/2 (1+2), 6/2 (3), 6/(2(3)), 6/6,1.

Basically the trick is in whether the user divides or multiplies first, if the user divides first following BEDMAS rules then the answer is nine, but if they follow a different order of operations and multiply first then the answer is one.

Newshub.