# Can You Solve This Controversial Math Problem?–People Are Getting Into Heated Arguments Over It

July 23, 2019 Updated: February 4, 2020
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This math problem was originally created for 5-year-olds in China. It might seem simple enough at first; however, a fierce debate ensued when the question first appeared online—and that’s what makes it so interesting.

First, see if you can figure out the answer for yourself, and then we’ll dig into what all the clamor is about.

Note that there are pictorial differences between the flowers; the 2 yellow flowers in the third row are not equal to the single yellow flower in the last row. Also note that the number of blue petals on each of the blue flowers are not all the same.

Solve the problem in the illustration below: Do not scroll down right away! Take a moment or two to come up with the solution, and then, when you’re ready (or if you’re completely stumped), check down below to see the answer and find out which side of the debate you ended up siding with. Most people agreed that the correct solution is 81

Now, here’s an explanation of how this was arrived at, as well as what all the trivia surrounding this problem was about:

In the first line, there are 3 red flowers added together to equal 60. That means that each red flower is equal to 20.

In the second line, we can assign that value of 20 for the red flower, and adding 2 blue flowers (with 5 petals each) gives us 30. We can subtract 20 on both sides of the equation, which leaves us with 2 blue flowers (with 5 petals each) equaling 10. That means that 1 blue flower (with 5 petals) equals 5.

In the third line, we can plug in the value of 5 for the single blue flower (with 5 petals), and subtracting 2 yellow flowers gives us 3. In this equation, 2 yellow flowers equal 2, which means that 1 yellow flower equals 1.

In the final equation, we can assign a value of 1 for the single yellow flower, and 20 for the red flower—however, what number is to be assigned to the blue flower with only 4 petals? Some of the debate swirled around precisely that matter.

Arguably, the value of the 4-petaled flower remains unknown, without any more information to tell us that, meaning that the solution is unsolvable. However, the consensus was that while the value of a 5-petaled blue flower is 5, the value of a 4-petaled blue flower is 4, or in other words, the value of each blue flower petal is 1, and thus, the value of the 4-petaled blue flower is 4.

Plugging in this information into the equation, we simply multiply 20 by 4, and add 1 to get a final answer of 81.

This answer appears to be what the problem’s creators had in mind, whether we like it or not! This solution can be considered problematic if you wish to get finicky. For example, the blue flower also has a stem, a leaf, and a center, all of which arguably could be assigned a value that is impossible to determine.

And you can get even more finicky if you want to dig into other pictorial trivia, as some netizens who love nothing more than to argue endlessly surely will.

What answer did you get, and what do you think of the debate surrounding this whole controversy?

BONUS: Are you up for an even bigger challenge? Try this one on for size! ## Can You Answer This Viral Math Problem?–Don’t Let The Balloons Confuse You

There aren’t many of us out there who can resist a good brain challenge—add a few balloons onto the equation and we’re hooked! This one has gone viral and has been circulating the internet recently, and it’s even gotten some math PhDs interested.

Take a look at the balloon math problem below, and using the given equations, see if you can solve the last question.

Can you figure out the answer? Take a moment or two to work it out in your head or on paper—this will be a good opportunity to take a much-deserved break from all that hard work you’ve been doing and refocus your mind with some math before getting on with your day.

When you think you have found the solution, check down below for an explanation and the final answer. First of all, let’s break down the problem line by line and solve each part of the equation. That should allow us to solve the final equation.

In the first equation, we have 1 red balloon plus 1 red balloon plus 1 red balloon, which equals 30. That means that each red balloon must be equal to 10. In the second equation, we see that 1 red balloon plus 2 yellow balloons plus 2 yellow balloons equals 18. Since we’ve established that 1 red balloon equals 10, we can subtract that from both sides of the equation, and we now know that 2 yellow balloons plus 2 yellow balloons equals 8. Therefore, 2 yellow balloons must equal 4. Thirdly, we have 2 yellow balloons minus 2 green balloons, which equals 2. Because we now know that 2 yellow balloons equals 4, we can now determine that 2 green balloons must equal 2.

Now we have the value of all of the balloons, and so we are able to solve the last equation. Thus, we may solve the fourth equation, 1 green balloon plus 1 red balloon multiplied by 1 yellow balloon.

From the first three equations, we learned that 2 yellow balloons equals 4, and 2 green balloons equals 2. It therefore seems reasonable that 1 yellow balloon should equal 2, and 1 green balloon should equal 1. Also, you need to remember that there is an order of operations for solving addition and multiplication; numbers multiplied by each other have to be solved first or the answer will be incorrect.

Ten multiplied by 2 equals 20, plus 1 equals 21. The answer is 21.

Were you able to solve this math problem? Admit it, it was the balloons that grabbed your interest, right? Nevertheless, you probably found solving this puzzle at least a little bit satisfying. That’s because your brain loves putting puzzles together and solving problems—not to mention all the bragging rights that come with it!

Photo Credit: The Epoch Times