Math, We Have A Problem

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Love it or hate it, you cannot live without math. It is not only the accountants and the mathematicians that live by it. If you go to the market, you apply math. If you’re a bus conductor or a jeepney driver, you really should know your math. Even if you’re an ordinary salaried employee, you need to know math. Or maybe that’s the reason your salary runs out before the days of the months do, is that you don’t know your math. We simply cannot disregard math.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of ours shared a math problem in a group chat. This posed a challenge to us, as we all believe that we are math whizzes. Maybe it was more than math prowess that was required, but also some analytical ability and a sprinkle of common sense.

Here is the problem she posted:

What is your answer?

A. 30

B. 20

C. 15

D. 43

E. None of the above, this is a trick question.

F. I don’t know and I don’t care, I hate math.

Looking at the problem and applying the math rules that I remember in solving equations, I easily arrived at an answer. Me and my wife have the same answer,  making us confident that we solved it right.

When we show the math problem to our son, he looked at it intently and said that our answer was wrong. We checked our solution again, and we were positive we were right.

My son told us his answer that I thought was definitely wrong, but he was certain of his answer. He just smiled with a knowing grin, like a cat who swallowed a canary, but he would not divulge to us on how he arrived at his “ridiculous” answer. 

When our friend who posted the math problem gave out the solution, it turned out that our son’s answer was right. We failed math!

How could it be? We were the ones who taught this boy math (we homeschooled our children), and yet the student turned out to be better than the teachers.

Well, it just prove that we are not math geniuses that we believe we are and we are no Einstein.

Hint: It needs good eyesight too to solve this problem. And me and my wife were not wearing our glasses when we try to solve this problem. At least that was our excuse, and we’re sticking to it.

(*For the solution and answer please see the comment section. The image is not mine and I apologize to the owner if there’s a copyright infringement.)


  1. The answer is choice D, 43. A pair of shoes has a value of 10, the boy has a value of 5, and two newspaper cones has a value of 4. So one shoe is 5 and one newspaper cone is 2. Plus you must remember that in solving math equation, you do the multiplication first before the addition. Finally, on the last equation, note that the boy is wearing a pair of shoes and holding 2 newspaper cones, which my wife and I did not “see.”

      1. Had a little Ginebra San Miguel before answering the question…..seriously it was an interesting math practice. I’ll share it with my wife later. Thanks

  2. Solution E
    Hello ! I just got here ’cause one of my friend has post this problem. We were not ok about the solution. He sent me here to prouve his right, but I think it’s wrong.
    So we are missing data and we are faced with three hypotheses that prevent us from solving the problem SAFELY:
    1. Should we assume that the guy is multiplied by the cones, which is actually impossible;
    2. that the two cones add up to him, which would seem logical.
    Hypothesis 1
    5 + (5 x 2 x 2 x 2) = 45
    Hypothesis 2a
    5 + [(5 + 2 + 2) x 2] = 23
    Hypothesis 2b
    (5 + 5 + 2 + 2) x 2 = 28
    We could apply the rule that if there’s no sign before or after () [] {}, it’s a multiplication, so the guy and his cones worth 20, but in this case the X should be considered not as a multiplication sign, but as a new multiplier whose value we have no way of knowing.
    My conclusion : the problem is insoluble.

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