Thread: 62(1+2) = ?
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Old April 29th, 2011, 10:35 AM   #80 (permalink)
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In case no one has bothered to wiki this subject yet...
Order of operations - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

And the part of interest:

Gaps in the standard

There exist differing conventions concerning the unary operator − (usually read "minus"). In written or printed mathematics, the expression −3^2 is interpreted to mean −(3^2) = −9, but in some applications and programming languages, notably the application Microsoft Office Excel and the programming language bc, unary operators have a higher priority than binary operators, that is, the unary minus (negation) has higher precedence than exponentiation, so in those languages −3^2 will be interpreted as (−3)^2 = 9. [1]. In any case where there is a possibility that the notation might be misinterpreted, it is advisable to use brackets to clarify which interpretation is intended.
Similarly, care must be exercised when using the slash ('/') symbol. The string of characters "1/2x" is interpreted by the above conventions as (1/2)x. The contrary interpretation should be written explicitly as 1/(2x). Again, the use of brackets will clarify the meaning and should be used if there is any chance of misinterpretation.

The takeaways are highlighted.

RED: neither 9 or 1 is correct or incorrect. The person posing the problem (not you Vihzel) is WRONG for not being explicit.

GREEN: if there is the possibility of ambiguity of INTENT, use parentheses!


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Last edited by novox77; April 29th, 2011 at 11:11 AM. Reason: fixed the loss of superscripts representing exponents. carets added.
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