Number facts and the order of operations, Facebook style

Let’s talk about the Facebook (yuck) meme that is going around, the one with the addition problem.

It’s stated as:

1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 – 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 x 0 = ?

There are several answers offered–17, 16, 15, 14, and 0.

If we use the order of operations, we do the multiplication first. Note that there are no parentheses involved, and that if there were, we would do the operations inside parentheses first.

1 X 0 = 0

So we can just remove that last “1” from the addition. We then count the ones. Note that one of the ones is subtracted, so we add negative one (or we subtract one, depending on which terminology you want to use.).

I added fourteen ones (I subtracted once). Thus I would choose 14 as the answer.

Had there been parentheses around all of the ones, the answer would indeed have been zero, as many of the Facebookers have marked. However, since there aren’t parentheses, we go by order of operations and condense that last operation. Then we do the addition/subtraction in sequence, as that’s the rule.

I thought it was encouraging that an addition meme even went around Facebook at all, but since there has been controversy about the problem, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to work it out. If anyone disagrees with my answer, we can discuss it.

I don’t get on Facebook very often. I am on it only because (1) that’s the only way I ever hear from my cousins, sister-in-law, niece, nephew, or aunt, because they aren’t on LJ and don’t like to do e-mail, and (2) a bunch of my old friends from elementary school (!) and secondary school are on there, and that’s the only way I get to find out about THEIR lives. I don’t usually bother to update. There’s a lot of silliness and linking. I hate the games that they have on there. It’s not my style. Also, they’ve made a mess of the way they show you the updates, doing a “top news” thing instead of just giving me ALL of them in chronological order. I don’t want to do Google+ because they insist upon “real” names (for whatever value you consider “real”) and real phone numbers and info, so marketing people will get full ammo when they look at the info of those who “like” something, all unsuspecting. The more social networking you do, the less time you have for writing, blogging, and cleaning house. It’s a timesink, like Facebook.

But Facebook is there to peek into people’s lives, so I sometimes do it.

Couldn’t resist addressing this question (because TOO MANY PEOPLE were putting zero as the answer and thinking themselves clever!)

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Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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