What does '6 ÷ 2(1 + 2)' equal? A viral maths sum is dividing the internet

17 November 2020, 12:43 | Updated: 17 November 2020, 12:59

By Sam Prance

The math equation '6 ÷ 2(1 + 2)' has gone viral because people get two completely different answers.

Maths is breaking the internet again. A new sum has gone viral and no one can agree on what the correct answer actually is.

There's no denying that the internet loves a good maths equation. Whether you're a certified mathlete or not, it's always fun to see if your maths education from school still holds up. Last year, people were shook by how many different ways you can add up '27+48' in your head and, shortly afterwards, everyone was divided over what the sum '8 ÷ 2(2 + 2)' really equals.

READ MORE: How do you write an x? The internet is divided and no one can agree

Now, another equation is causing havoc. The year is 2020 and people have no idea what the answer to '6 ÷ 2(1 + 2)' is.

What is the actual answer to '6 ÷ 2(1 + 2)'?

What does '6 ÷ 2(1 + 2)' equal? The answer to the viral math equation explained
What does '6 ÷ 2(1 + 2)' equal? The answer to the viral math equation explained. Picture: Paramount Pictures, NBC

The question went viral last week when @iambuterastan tweeted: "how smart are my oomfs" alongside an image of the sum '6 ÷ 2(1 + 2)'. Within minutes, the tweet had thousands of replies and retweets with people tweeting what they believe is the answer. However, multiple results came up and it didn't take long before people with maths degrees started wading in.

Two main answers came out of the discourse on Twitter: 1 and 9. One person wrote: "It's 1??? People don't understand that you multiply before you divide." Another clapped back: "its 9 not 1, the problem is not written incorrectly, it is a simple math problem and you dont need a calculator."

Elsewhere someone tweeted: "The answer is 1. Anything else proves you didn’t pay attention in class." Meanwhile, another wrote: "The amount of people that are saying with their whole chest that the answer is 1 worries me." So, to quote Oprah, "What is the truth?"

People who get 1 believe that you have to work out all of the brackets stuff first. So you do '1 + 2' and the sum simplifies to '6 ÷ 2(3)'. You then still have brackets so you have to do '2 x 3' before continuing on. This gives you '6 ÷ 6' which equals 1.

However, those who get 9 believe that when you get to '6 ÷ 2(3)', you do '6 ÷ 2' first because they're both outside of the brackets. This gives you 3(3) which equals 16. Anyone else confused, now?

Some people use the PEMDAS method (in the US this means Parentheses, Exponents, Multiply, Divide, Add, Subtract) and others use BODMAS (in the UK this means Brackets, Order, Division, Multiplication, Addition, Subtraction).

Both methods mean the same thing though because division and multiplication are paired together. Addition and subtraction are also paired together too. Essentially, PEMDAS is also PEDMSA and BODMAS is also BOMDSA.

Frustratingly, just like the '8 ÷ 2(2 + 2)' equation, the right answer literally depends on how you were taught and it all comes down to whether you think you should work out '2(3)' first or '6 ÷ 2'.

What do you think? Are you team 1 or team 9?