Facebook Math Sucks

Often I see some image like this designed to spark up public arguments on facebook.

Everyone always gets the answer correct. Allow me to explain.

Most people will glance at this image, calculate that a pair of sneakers is worth 10. A man is worth 5. A pair of snow cones is worth 4.

Then we come to the last equation. They will add 10 + 5 + 4 and get 19.

Enter the internet trollz as they bark: YOUR WRONG!**

** (facebOOk trollz grammer no good)

Returning to study the picture we find the last equation has 3 sneakers, 3 snow cones and 1 man. It’s easy to miss if you’re not paying attention.

So what is the real answer? Mathematically, it is undefined.

Imagine I took away the pictures and re-wrote it as a system of equations.

a + a + a = 30 b + b + a + 20 c + c + b = 13

Then I ask you,

x + y * z = ?

You would likely say, I can’t solve that. That is what is really happening in this picture. For some individuals we extrapolate the number of sneakers, snow cones and re-write the equation as:

2a + 2a + 2a = 30 b + b + 2a = 20 2c + 2c + b = 13

Gives us,

a = 5 b = 5 c = 2

Then the final equation is:

a + (b+2a+2c) * c = ? 5 + (5+10+4) * 2 = 43

We don’t use images to convey mathematical conecpts. In mathematics, we need a set of domain and range to apply operations upon. As you learn abstract algebra and higher forms of math, we find that our rules of algebra are based strictly on the Real numbers set. Once you get outside of this set, it can become even more complicated. It can become ambigous.

Let me illistrate. Let’s be really nit picky. Notice that in the final equation the man is missing part of a hand and also wearing different shoes. Thus if you were measuring weight, the man would technically weigh a different amount without his black shoes than with red sneakers. Thus he is no longer worth the same number as he used to be. He is technically a different variable. The answer to this problem becomes some number between 21 and 31. That’s assuming the man has mass and those aren’t anti-gravity shoes he was wearing. You can start throwing in all sorts of ambigous things to mess up the numbers.

You could start throwing in different mathematical operations. We only see 2 mathematical operations, the addition and multiplication operations.

What if a pair of sneakers is actually,

a^a + a^a + a^a = 30

Now a red sneaker is now worth approximately 2.50618414.

So for all these reasons above, I’ve come to the conclusion that any answer is acceptable. What do you think?