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I was registering for access to the Sencha forums (www.sencha.com) today when I saw the following on the registration form:

Figure 1

That's pretty advanced math for a CAPTCHA, isn't it?

So, is the math problem this:

6 – (2 x 3)

Or is it this:

(6 – 2 ) x 3

Having a degree in Physics and more than 30 years of experience as a professional software developer, I was certain I knew what I was doing. However, I'd be lying if I told you I got this right on the first try.

All of my years of experience with math told me that the actual problem I was trying to solve was this: 6 – (2 x 3). Everything I knew from high school and college told me that without parenthesis clarifying the problem, the more complicated math happened first followed by less complicated. Even Wikipedia confirmed this here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_operations.

The answer's Zero, right?

Nope, that's not the case. So, not only is the registration forum asking me to do more complicated math than simple addition, subtraction or multiplication – but it's also scoffing at normal precedence of operators and essentially forcing me to give the deliberately wrong answer which, according to them, is 12.

Feb 08, 2012
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