Tips&TricksMath puzzle ignites dispute: Is it 4 or 1? Where many are going wrong

Math puzzle ignites dispute: Is it 4 or 1? Where many are going wrong

Conflicts erupt due to this mathematical operation.
Conflicts erupt due to this mathematical operation.
Images source: © Canva
10:41 AM EST, January 26, 2024

Puzzles, equations, and mathematical operations are a true feast for our brains, yet we frequently fail to appreciate them. Many, upon spotting the numbers in the graphic above, immediately feel the onset of stress. Others might want to run as far away as possible to bypass the challenge. This type of approach rarely produces the correct answer, which is more attainable than one might think. Just begin the calculations, and you'll see.

How to untangle this contentious operation?

Firstly, set your anxiety aside; it has no place in mathematics. Pressuring yourself won't help you arrive at an accurate result. This is the time to locate a pen and paper, transcribe the operation, and examine it. If you're unsure where to start, review the basic rules of mathematics and the formal order of operations. Becoming familiar with these fundamentals makes the equation much easier to solve.

We have all studied mathematics and should therefore be familiar with the fundamental principles. However, is this truly the case? Over time, forgotten knowledge slips away from us, leaving us unable to handle mathematical operations and puzzles that require this knowledge. Consequently, many people commit serious errors, repeatedly arriving at incorrect conclusions. An alarmingly high number of people proclaim that the answer is the number 4, a patently incorrect response that should never be considered!

The operation solution revealed

Before providing the correct answer, it’s important for you to first attempt to order this operation independently. So, where will you begin your calculations? According to the rules of mathematics, any brackets must be processed first, and in this case, the equation contains addition within the parentheses. Now the operation, transformed to read "10 : 5(2)", appears easier to handle, encouraging further calculation. Now, you must reconsider which operation to perform first, since the result depends on this step. First, you'll address the expression 5(2), which implies multiplication. Thus, you get 10:10, resulting in the figure 1.

Misunderstanding the order of operations can push you into a dead-end which leads to the erroneous result of 4. Individuals who arrived at this result began correctly by addressing the figures in the parentheses, but subsequently erred by solving the equation from left to right, initiating with division. Regrettably, this method led them astray. The equation 10:5(2) is not equivalent to 10:5x2. The five and the enclosed content, when not separated by a multiplication sign, form one single inseparable unit. Only after multiplying the five and the content of the bracket should you proceed to the division.

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