This problem was shared on Facebook with the claim that only 1 in a thousand people could figure it out. It soon generated controversy, and it now has over three million comments.
In this article, I’m going to present what many people believe to be the correct answer.
Can you figure it out? Give it a try before keep reading.
So most people agree that the answer should be 96. The pattern in each line is take the first number and add it to the product of the first and second number.
So for example, the first line is 1 + 4. So we should interpret 1 + 4 as 1 + 1*4. This will be equal to 5
The second line which is 2 + 5 should be interpreted as 2 + 2*5. 2 times 5 is 10, and adding 2 gets us to the result of 12
The third line of 3 + 6, should be interpreted as 3 + 3*6, and that is equal to 21.
This means the final line of 8 + 11, should be interpreted, as 8 + 8*11. 8*11 is 88, and adding 8 gets us to the answer of 96
The were people however who disagreed with this interpretation. They believed the answer should have been a different number, which is 40.
How did they arrive at this answer?
They thought the puzzle should be interpreted as a”running total”, where you add up the numbers from each line.
So the first line of 1 + 4 = 5, is a correct mathematical result
In the next line where you have 2 + 5, you should preface that by adding the result of five from the previous line
When we add 5 to 2 + 5 we get the answer of 12, and that matches what is given in the original problem.
We now add 12 to 3 + 6, and that gets us to 21.
This interpretation is consistent with the information that we are given.
If we continue the pattern, we then take 21 and add that to 8 + 11, and that gets to the other answer of 40.
So many people were debating, whether the answer should be 96, or whether it should be 40.
There is a way to reconcile these two approaches, and we can see that the answer of 96, can be justified under the running total method. So let’s see how that’s possible.
So when we have this running total of the different numbers in each line, notice how that the first numbers we’re adding, are 1, and then 2, and then 3.
If we continue this pattern, we might think that the next number we should be adding is 4.
What about the second number?
Well we have 4 + 5 + 6. Logic should suggest that that the next number, should be 7.
So the next line should be 4 + 7, now this is not part of our original puzzle, but if we were to continue the pattern from the original puzzle, we have this extra missing line that could be placed in there.
So now what happens if we take our previous total of 21 and add it, and add it to 4 + 7?
We get the answer of 32. What would be the next line?
Well we would want to increase 4 by 1 to get 5, and we’d want to increase 7 by 1 to get 8.
So the next line would be 5 + 8. We therefore take 32, plus 5 + 8, and that gets us to 45.
We continue the pattern, the next line should be 6 + 9. We add that to our previous result of 45, we get 60. Then we have 7 + 10, we add that we add that to 60 to get 77.
And when we continue the pattern, we once again get to 8 + 11, and want to add our previous result of 77 and then we get the answer of 96. So, under the this interpretation, we also get to the answer of 96.
We only need to adjust our running total by putting in some of these missing lines that are not part of the original puzzle. But they make sense, if we were to increase the first number and the second number in each line. So under this interpretation of the running total, we also get that the answer is 96.
Therefore, it seems very likely that the answer to this puzzle should be 96 because under either interpretation, we get to this result.
What do you think? Did you get to 96?