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Order of operations
Authored by: MattHaffner on May 24, '05 02:13:03PM

"Mathematics is not open to debate or your personal preference. Order of operations is correct, left to right is wrong. Period."

I'm fairly certain that this order of operations that we commonly use is convention, not anything intrinsic to math. So, yes, it is a personal preference. One that most of us like to use in order to communicate with each other clearly :)

It's certainly heavily influenced by the abbreviated notion introduced by algebra (2 * x = 2x), but it is more likely supremely reinforced nowadays by fiat of computer programming languages. Most simply need to establish an order of precedence to know what to do with any complex expression. Anyone who has had a whit of programming learns this on day 1, pretty much. But that's not mathematical (i.e., able to be proven, etc.), per se, it's by design and convention.

Order of operations
Authored by: Baggins on May 25, '05 11:48:40AM

No, order of operations was not determined arbitrarily. It has to do with getting accurate answers. Since multiplication is repeated addition, it MUST be done before simple addition or you will get an incorrect answer and your bridge will collapse, your engine explode, etc.

The same is true with exponents, logs, differentials, etc. They are evaluated in a certain order because they HAVE to be in order to give the correct answer.