The question is – Does the rule for order of calculation, BODMAS always apply?

(OK so it’s a bit eccentric having a post about Christmas at the start of August, but I liked the title so I am sticking to it)

For a reminder of what the BODMAS rule is, check here

### Can we ever bend the BODMAS Rule?

Well the real answer is ‘yes’ – but should the rules should be bent sometimes?

This idea started with a post I saw on Facebook. I gave my initial answer yesterday. This morning I had to admit I got it wrong, if we follow BODMAS to the letter.

### A BODMAS Example

The question is, simply, what is the value of

Add 2 + 2 to get 4; multiply by the 2 outside the bracket and get 8; then 8 divided by 8… we get the answer 1.

Actually, by BODMAS rules the divide should come before the multiply (D before M) so it should be 8 divided by 2 (Giving 4)…. 4 x 4 = 16

That is probably the ‘Correct’ answer and I had to accept I was wrong – and there is nothing bad about accepting one is wrong sometimes

### Why I might disagree?

But I still feel somewhat attached to my original answer! To me, 2(2+2) LOOKS like a single unit for calculation. If the x sign had been there between the first 2 and the ( , as below, I don’t think I’d have made the same mistake

For me, the () is such a powerful sign, I see any digit next to it as ‘belonging’ to it, and hence how I did that calculation in the way I did. I can’t claim that is the official rule; just the way I read it.

So my recommendation is, BODMAS rules as they are, if you want to communicate a calculation, if there is any doubt on what you mean, include extra brackets to avoid confusion