Order of Operations in an Equation
Date: 9/13/95 at 16:57:1 From: Anonymous Subject: Algebra We have a controversy here at our high school math department over a very simple question. Let c = 4. Find: 16 divided by 2c. (Place a division symbol where the words divided by appear, since that key is not on my keyboard. Is the answer 2, since 16 divided by 8 is 2, or is it 32 because order of operations tell us to multiply or divide from left to right?
Date: 9/13/95 at 17:16:3 From: Doctor Steve Subject: Re: Algebra Here's my fairly informal response off the top. The order of operations is for evaluating expressions but 2c is a number, not an expression. Another way to put this is that there's an implied set of parentheses around 2c. You could rely here on the definition of number which should include some phrase such as "a continuous string . . ." and this would make clear 2c's status. -Doctor Steve, The Geometry Forum
Search the Dr. Math Library:
Ask Dr. MathTM
© 1994- The Math Forum at NCTM. All rights reserved.