Thread: 62(1+2) = ?
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Old May 9th, 2011, 10:23 AM   #189 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Ichapp View Post
The only other thing I have to say on the matter is to correct those among you who think that left/right has any precedence. IT DOESN'T MATTER AT ALL.
Glad you agreed with my previous post (even though I'm sure many people don't). But I'm not sure I agree with your above statement without some clarification. 62x3 gives a different result depending on if you calculate it from left to right or vice versa. To me, left-to-right takes precedence, so 9 is the only correct answer.

I see two camps of people. I will call them strict and intent. Strict people use PEDMAS as law; no exceptions. Perfectly logical. Intent people look at the problem as written and try to infer what the person who created the equation meant while still trying to accommodate the order of operations. It's the difference between correct and truth. In that sense, this equation could act as a personality test.

I'll say that through the course of following this thread, I'm convinced that 9 is the correct answer, but the alternate answer, 1, has a lot of merit from a practical application of mathematics: engineering. I previously discussed the "gap in the standard" as described in the wiki. Engineers aren't always unambiguous, and as a team reaching a common engineering goal, it's more important to read the intent of the calculations/equations rather than get hung up over the technical correctness as written. For a simple brain teaser like the one in this thread, we can afford to take the hard stance and claim a superior correct answer. But that's not always the right approach in the real world.

Ideally people are always unambiguous in their mathematical statements, but that's not always the case. And the strict methodology isn't necessarily better than the intent methodology. And that probably explains why so many people can see "1" as the right answer. As written, there's a strong intent toward "1", even though technically, the answer is "9."

The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it. -Neil deGrasse Tyson

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