Today’s Useful Moral

math equation

A math equation recently stirred up trouble by seeming to offer two equally valid, and very different, solutions. Some software programs flatly refused to take the bait. Credit Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images.

If you want a clear answer, ask a clear question.

Adapted from Steven Strogatz, “That Vexing Math Equation? Here’s an Addition,” NYTimes, 8- 5-19)

Strogatz reprises an online debate about the answer to this equation:

8 ÷ 2(2+2) = ?

I got 16. The answer can be either 16 or 1 depending on two differing standards for order of operations that are equally valid. Mr. Strogatz concludes that his notation for the equation had a built-in ambiguity, which he intended.

(c) 2019 JMN

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
This entry was posted in Commentary and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.