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