# “Only 1% Can Get This Math Problem Right—Are You One of Them?”

The math problem 8 ÷ 2(2 + 2) has sparked an ongoing debate online, dividing people into two camps with different answers—1 and 16. This equation plays on the interpretation of the order of operations, often abbreviated as PEMDAS (Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction).

Here’s how the controversy unfolds:

One side argues that you should solve the problem like this:

1. First, handle the parentheses: 2 + 2 = 4.

2. This leaves 8 ÷ 2(4), which can be rewritten as 8 ÷ 2 × 4.

3. Then, using the left-to-right rule for division and multiplication, 8 ÷ 2 = 4.

4. Finally, 4 × 4 = 16.

However, others interpret the equation differently:

1. First, calculate 2 + 2 = 4, giving you 8 ÷ 2(4).

2. But instead of treating 2(4) as separate operations, they treat 2(4) as a single multiplication, making the equation 8 ÷ (2 × 4), or 8 ÷ 8.

3. The final result is 1.

Mathematically, the order of operations is designed to be precise, but even experts admit that certain cases, like this one, are ambiguous depending on how the equation is written. Mike Breen of the American Mathematical Society believes 16 is technically correct, but he also acknowledges that the ambiguity in writing can lead to different interpretations.

Ultimately, this is a case of mathematical convention. If rewritten with clearer notation (such as using more parentheses), it could remove the confusion entirely. But for now, the debate continues, with both 1 and 16 being valid answers depending on interpretation.

What do you think? Does the equation give 1 or 16? Share it with others and see how they solve it!