Debates About Order of Operations

If I never have to argue about Order of Operations again, it’ll be too soon.

A real question:

6/2(1+2) … is the answer 3 or 9?

My favorite response is from Brian Katz:

It’s all down to bad and ambiguous typeface, not a mathematical question, I think.

And my thoughts… we know the rules, right? Can we just work on improving our grammar and quit arguing about “order” in these ambiguous questions? These kinds of problems make poor use of the keyboard shortcuts of “/” when a regular fraction symbol or bar would do when writing this on a piece of paper.

Okay… rant complete. But seriously, next time you have a question like this, write the expression less ambiguously and then give it a go. No need to debate.

About the Author: Levi Patrick

I serve as the Director of Secondary Mathematics for the Oklahoma State Department of Education. This is my twelfth year in education and I am so happy to be surrounded by OKMath teachers who are so passionate, creative, and determined to do great things for mathematics education in Oklahoma.

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