Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Subject: algebra
Name: Joan
Who are you: Parent

Is -2 squared, when written without parentheses around the -2, -4 or
could this correctly be solved by squaring -2 (-2 x -2) for an answer of 4?
Or, to correctly get an answer of 4, would the problem have to read (-2) squared?

Hi Joan.

-22 = -4

(-2)2 = 4

The reason for this is that you must follow the order of operations as expressed in the acronym BEDMAS.

Exponents are always evaluated (simplified) before addition or subtraction, but brackets allow you to override this.

Hope this helps,
Stephen La Rocque.


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