This Math Problem Will Make You Question Everything You Ever Knew About Algebra
By ANN-MARIE ALCÁNTARA
Math isn’t everyone’s best skill — and even those who are good at it are questioning everything after trying this algebra problem.
The question originally went viral in Japan, after a study discovered that only 60 percent of 20-somethings could actually solve it. Are you already feeling frustrated and hopeless at trying to know what the answer is? Watch the video below, posted by YouTube user MindYourDecisions, a popular math puzzle channel. In it, Presh Talwalkar, the mastermind behind this question, will guide you to the right answer.
As you can see, not even a calculator can help you, as it will read the problem wrong and arrive at the answer of 9. To solve it correctly in a calculator, you need to write it out like this: 9-3/(1/3) + 1, which will lead you to 1 as the correct answer. The problem tests your knowledge of PEMDAS, the order of operations formula, which says you must get to the answer by following these steps in this order: parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction. In this question, that means dividing 3 by the 1/3 first, which is the same as 3×3. That will then lead you to 9-9+1. From there, 9-9=0 + 1 = 1. Ta-da!
If you arrived at 3, 7, or 9 as your answer, you’re not alone. Most people have forgotten how to use PEMDAS or interpret the fraction of 1/3 the wrong way.