Order of operations

BODMAS stands for 'brackets', 'of', 'division', 'multiplication', 'addition' and 'subtraction'. The order in which a calculation is carried out is important.

What is \(2 + 3 \times 4\) ?

If we calculate the \(2 + 3\) part first, we get:

\[(2 + 3) \times 4\]

\[= 5 \times 4 = 20\]

If we calculate the \(3 \times 4\) part first, we get:

\[2 + (3 \times 4)\]

\[= 2 + 12 = 14\]

These are obviously two different answers - but which one is correct?

BODMAS tells us that 'multiplication' comes before 'addition', so the second answer is correct:

\[2 + 3 \times 4 = 2 + 12 = 14\]