Briana Hansen
May 01, 2016 11:20 am
Miramax Films

We know there are two sides to every story. But it’s not as often you find out there’s two answers to a given math equation. We’re used to our math being linear and logical and only having one clear solution. But that’s not exactly been the case for this deceivingly simple math problem which has recently gone viral.

Originally posted on Facebook by Brain Dare, the problem has many people up in arms about their “solution,” since there seem to be two equally valid answers.

Note: If you haven’t yet figured out either answer and really want to see what you come up with on your own, be sure to do that now before you read on. Here is a cat warning you to go no further:

Or, if you’ve already spent the past five minutes staring at it only to suddenly remember you don’t like math puzzles and just want the solution, totally keep reading. We’ve got you covered.

Brain Dare’s posted puzzle solution is 96. If that’s what you got, well done! But if you solved it and are absolutely sure the answer is 40, fret not. You’re also right. Both answers are right. And having two logical answers to this puzzle is as surprisingly simple as the puzzle itself.

Basically, Brain Dare used one set of logic. They were using an equation that incorporates the first two numbers in a particular pattern which gets a very specific solution.

Their logic was this: Second number multiplied by first number plus first number equals the solution. So, 1+4=5 is really (4×1)+1=5.

If you follow that logic, your final solution will be 96. In their logic, the other equations don’t matter at all. Its solutions are completely based on how you plug in the numbers themselves.

But! Some people incorporated the previous solutions and to build a logically sound but completely different pattern structure.

Their logic is this: They take the equation at face value, meaning if it says 1+4=5, it means that 1 added to 4 equals 5. Nothing additional is added because it’s the first equation on the list (or, for the pattern purists, it’d be adding 0 and therefore still getting 5).

But, that 5 then comes into play for the next equation, which really clarifies the pattern. Rather than using the first logic, they simply add the solution of the previous equation to the sum of the given equation and get the same solution. Meaning, 2+5=12 comes from the fact that 2 added to 5 is 7, and 7 plus (the previous solution) 5, which equals 12.

With that logic, your last equation solution is 40 (8+11+21=40).

And, voilà! There you have it: A math problem with two equally logical solutions. So rather than choosing which answer is “best,” you can just love them both for the perfection they are (like some other totally perfect duos we know and love).

Universal Pictures/Giphy
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