BODMASsive challenge

Deccan Chronicle.  | Malvika Ramesh

Lifestyle, Viral and Trending

As people of all professions and persuasions puzzle over an equation that the average fifth grader could solve in a jiffy!

A still from the film Super 30 used for representational purposes only.

Remember those days when we struggled to solve a mathematical equation in class? Well, those days are back. The Twitterati has found another new obsession, and this time it’s the famous math equation — BODMAS! For most of us, the term rings so many bells, and our entire school life seems to flash before our eyes.

So, what is this numerical puzzler that everyone seems to be so obsessed with? A simple-looking equation — 8÷2 (2 + 2) — is what has gotten everyone on Twitter so confused. “I went over the same equation for hours, and I still ended up getting two different answers. I’m still unaware which is the right one. It’s just so irritating! It’s like the fifth grade final exams all over again,” says a visibly annoyed Erram Nashith, aviation engineer with a reputed airline.

Right after the first tweet of the equation was sent out, it went viral. It was clear that one needed to use the BODMAS to solve it, but as the brainteaser gained more popularity, people began using PEDMAS to solve it as well. The only difference between the two being that PEDMAS is used to solve more complex mathematical problems.

Mathematics teacher Geetha Ramesh says, “Mathematical equations are always tricky. Even a basic question like this can end up with multiple answers. Which is why it’s always challenging.” Further discussing why the Twitterati is unable to solve this particular equation, she opines, “It’s just that it’s been so many years since people studied things like BODMAS. They just don’t remember the basic rules anymore. You ask a fifth grader now, they will be able to solve it.”

Unlike other trending challenges, this #BODMAS and #PEDMAS challenge is more brain wracking. Sahil Gehlawat, a PhD mathematics student at IISC, says, “Firstly, if we solve the equation using BODMAS, then the equation has to be rewritten like this, 8 ÷ 2 (2 + 2) = 8 (2+2) / 2 and the answer will be 1.” Talking about the reason why even math geniuses are getting confused over this simple solution, he adds by saying, “People are actually getting confused as they are thinking that we have to divide 8 by the whole term 2 (2+2) = 8. But to do that, the equation should have originally been like this: 8 ÷ (2 (2 + 2)).”

Agreeing with Geetha, Sahil claims that such problems are tricky and that they always end up having multiple possible solutions, but that’s actually not true. Not holding back from the trending mayhem on Twitter, many brands have used this challenge as a means of moment marketing. It began with Durex, after they sent out their ‘Some equations never go wrong’ post. Soon after, other brands like FreeCharge, Havells and Netflix, amongst others, followed. Guess, when our teachers said, “You will always need mathematics,” they weren’t that wrong after all.