Martin Lewis stumps internet with a question from his daughter's maths homework


    Writing on social media to his thousands of followers, the financial expert wrote: Just had an interesting chat with mini MSE while she was doing maths homework.”

    Mr Lewis then revealed the question, which was five plus six times four.

    5 + 6 x 4 =” asked Mr Lewis, sparking 1,300 replies from social media users.

    He then followed it up with: “Interesting to see how many people get it right.”

    After many replied with “44”, Mr Lewis revealed all.

    The consumer champion wrote: “44 is wrong.”

    He added: “29 is right. Owt else you’re very wrong. It’s due to the BIDMAS rule. The order you do calculations so Brackets, indices, division, multiplication, addition subtraction. So in this case you do 6 x 4 then add 5.”

    James Freedman replied: “29. Mixed memories of my prep school maths master, who used chalk to write BODMAS in reversed letters on a wooden ruler, before imprinting the mnemonic on the backside of any boy who failed to remember it.”

    But others moaned about the ambiguity of the question.

    One chipped in with: “Where are the brackets?”

    A second agreed, adding: “The key point is that it *shouldn’t* have a level of ambiguity about it. By omitting parentheses, it’s like having a sentence with a subclause, but you’ve left out the commas. BODMAS is only a last resort for poor arithmetical grammar.”

    And a third added: “I wouldn’t write that equation as 5+6*4… I would write it as 5+(6*4)=29 or (5+6)*4=44, so as to avoid ambiguity. Anything else is just leaving a trap for people who don’t know / have forgotten BODMAS to fall into.”


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