The internet is filled with conundrums that have left many stumped and debating what the real answer is. Just like the infamous blue and black dress that took social media and even experts by storm, the same case can be said with a viral math problem that got workplaces and even scientists racking their brains out.

In a photo posted by a user in 2019 on Twitter, they asked their followers to solve a now-controversial mathematics problem – 8 ÷ 2(2 + 2) – which caused a full-blown debate not just on Twitter but also on social media.

Editors of Popular Mechanics, a lifestyle magazine, were at a standstill as they were divided on the infamous math conundrum. Taking the conversation to their official workplace chatbox, the editors debated and decoded what the real answer to the question was.

According to one of the editors, the practical way as taught in elementary and high school, was to use the popular rule “PEMDAS” or “Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction.” In this case, equations or problems should be solved in order of the operations that appear on the acronym – one must solve those in parentheses first, then exponents, and so on and so forth – from left to right.

This meant that the 2 + 2 in the parenthesis should be solved first, which would give out 2, leaving people with 8 ÷ 2 x 4. After this, the equation calls for solving the leftmost operation first, as explained by Mashup Math, so that means 8 ÷ 2 must be solved first rather than 2 x 4 despite Multiplication taking precedence over Division.

The quotient would result in 4, which gives us 4 x 4, with a product of 16. However, half of the people online tend to disagree with this operation – including scientists who know their math.