recently, as many of you may already know, several facebook polls have been created featuring ambiguously written equations, such as this one... upon seeing this question, my first reaction was that there couldnt possibly be that many dumb people... i took a moment to calculate it in my head and found that i had a distinct urge to group the 2 with the parentheses (which would yield an answer of 1) but after some consideration i felt that my urge went against order of operations. i tried to verify my answer... in two of these cases, the implied multiply was replaced by a multiplication symbol and in the other, a new set of parentheses was added. i was unsure whether this had any effect on the result and judging by how divided the answers on facebook were i decided to research the issue a bit. my first stop, of course was wikipedia. wikipedia didnt seem to explicitly describe any change in operator precedence for this case, so i decided to keep looking. using the term "multiplication by juxtaposition" from the wiki article, a google search yielded several threads about this same topic. these were two of the sources they cited. so, all i really managed to find out, is that not everyone agrees on this issue. as a computer science major, i know that having only one valid interpretation of an expression is very important in my field, particularly when designing a compiler. my question to you all is... since this method of representing multiplication can be ambiguous, what changes, if any, do you think could be made to either the syntax of multiplication or (the wording of) the order of operations to avoid said ambiguity. i am not asking whether you think the answer is 1 or 9. i am not asking for your math professor's expert opinion. i am asking for a set of rules for which such an equation would have only one valid interpretation.