Unless you're an uber nerd, then every single one of us had a subject in school that was the bane of our existence. For me, personally, it was Math. I could get down with science, sure. History? A lot of memorization, but I loved it. Gym? Not athletic at all, but OK. But trying to figure out mathematics was like nailing my hand to a burning building and then giving me a butter knife to free my hand from my impending doom.
While that might seem like a dramatization, I'd still get the same burning sense of anxiety every time a new equation popped up in our textbooks. I'll never forget the rage I felt when I just though I had all this number stuff down, and the teacher went and started introducing letters into math. Hold up - I didn't realize we were in Language Arts class. I didn't Algebra was gonna be like that.
Statistics and Calculus only got worse and at that point I had already given up all hope of getting great at solving math problems, which is a shame because it's actually a super useful skill that not only opens up a lot of awesome career opportunities, but have mental benefits that carry over into other disciplines. Maybe the same could be said for every subject, but last I checked they weren't exactly clamoring for resumes at the Ancient Latin mill.
As much as I loathed Math, however, I didn't really mind PEMDAS equations so much. Sure, they were annoying to learn, but compared to measuring triangles and dealing with proofs, I'll take some parenthesis and fractions any day of the week.
What is PEMDAS? Study.com provides a pretty great explanation of this specific mathematics discipline:
"Parenthesis, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction. Given two or more operations in a single expression, the order of the letters in PEMDAS tells you what to calculate first, second, third and so on, until the calculation is complete."
So why are we talking about it now?
Much like Mark Morrison, PEMDAS is making a return of its own on Twitter, with people sharing a viral equation, challenging others to see if they can solve it.
The reactions were mixed.
Some people welcomed the equation with open arms. Others were traumatized with nightmares of High School classes where they stared at their worksheets with an amalgamation of mortification and hopelessness.
Others began arguing as what "the correct" way to solve the problem is. As in, which order of operations are solved first. Do you multiply the exterior number directly outside the parenthesis by the value that's inside?
Or do you solve the equation outside of the parenthesis and then multiply it by the figures encapsulated in the little grammatical bubble?
Who's right? Well, the good thing about math is that there are some set rules for solving equations, and the order of operations are a legitimate rule one can use to get to the bottom of any equation. Check out this gnarly-looking, but useful video below that'll give you the skinny on PEMDAS.
So in case you don't want to watch the whole video, here are the steps of PEMDAS:
- First, simplify what's in the parenthesis
- If there's an exponent outside of the parenthesis, that goes next.
- Then there's multiplication, then division.
- Then add or subtract, depending on which occurs first in the sequence.
Here's what the equation started as, and what it was simplified to below:
And thus ends the PEMDAS debate, so apply this to whatever viral Twitter, IG, or Facebook problem pops up on your feed so you can show people that they're wrong on the internet.