Implied Multiplication 2: Is There a Standard?

This is part 2 of a series of extracts from discussions we have had on whether multiplication implied by juxtaposition is to be done before division (which I call IMF, for Implied Multiplication First). Some people write to us claiming that there is one official correct answer. Are they right?

Order of Operations: Historical Caveats

To finish up this long series on the order of operations, I want to look at where the “rules” came from, which will also demonstrate why some aspects are not fully agreed upon, finishing up the discussion from last time.

Order of Operations: Fractions, Evaluating, and Simplifying

(An archive problem of the week) Last time we looked at the subtle distinction between the order of operations, which defines the meaning of an expression, and properties that allow us to do something other than what an expression literally says. Here I want to look at one longer discussion that brings out these issues …

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Order of Operations: Subtle Distinctions

Some questions we have been asked about the order of operations go beyond the what and why, pondering the relationship of the conventions both to theoretical matters (properties of operations) and to practical matters (evaluating and simplifying expressions). We will see here an important distinction between meaning and processes.

Order of Operations: Why These Rules?

Last time we looked at some questions about why we need rules for Order of Operations at all, with some hints in the answers as to why the rules we use make sense. This time I want to survey some deeper explanations.

Order of Operations: Why?

Having looked at what the order of operations convention means, another common question is, why is it what it is? We’ll look at some basic ideas here, focusing on why we need a convention at all, and why the one we have makes sense; then next time we’ll dig in a little deeper, examining some …

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Order of Operations: Neglected Details

The basic statement of the order of operations covers the five main operations (exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction). But what about other operations like square roots? How about trigonometric functions? And are operations at the same level always carried out left to right? Here are some questions about the details we don’t often mention.