"Screw you and your stupid birthday, Cheryl."
That is the war cry of the Internet this week, because a math problem from Singapore has gone viral and it's basically stumped the entire World Wide Web. It's one of those story problems that caused you so much burning rage back in school, so prepare to have some agonizing flashbacks.
Look, we're writers. We can dominate essay questions, spelling tests and reading comprehension. Math? Nope to that. We'd be lost without our iPhone's calculator and our adding skills are rudimentary at best, so saying that we weren't able to get the right answer isn't saying much.
But when a problem that's meant for 14-year-old kids confuses most of the Internet? That's worth a looky-loo. (See? We write much good).
Kenneth Kong, a television host in Singapore, posted the above image to his Facebook page, asking if anyone could solve it. According to Singapore news site Mothership.sg, the problem is from an Asian Schools Math Olympiad test paper.
The original wording is a bit confusing, but The New York Times cleaned it up a bit and presented the problem as follows:
Albert and Bernard just met Cheryl. "When's your birthday?" Albert asked Cheryl.
Cheryl thought a second and said, "I'm not going to tell you, but I'll give you some clues."
She wrote down a list of 10 dates:
May 15 — May 16 — May 19
June 17 — June 18 July 14 — July 16
August 14 — August 15 — August 17
"My birthday is one of these," she said.
Then Cheryl whispered in Albert's ear the month — and only the month — of her birthday. To Bernard, she whispered the day, and only the day.
"Can you figure it out now?" she asked Albert.
Albert: "I don't know when your birthday is, but I know Bernard doesn't know, either."
Bernard: "I didn't know originally, but now I do."
Albert: "Well, now I know, too!"
When is Cheryl's birthday?
Ready? Get to work and solve it! We'll wait…
Did you figure it out? Nah, neither did we. Thankfully, the smarty pants over at the NYT solved it. Cheryl's birthday is July 16.
If you want to figure out why that's the correct answer, they broke it down step by step. That's right, we're sending you somewhere else because we can't even summarize how someone else got the answer. The explanation of the damn answer confused us after we read the first three sentences.
If we were to venture our own guess, however, we would just say this:
"Cheryl has no birthday as she is some demon sent from hell to torture her 'friends' with confusing and unnecessary problem-solving exercises instead of just giving then a straightforward answer to a normal question. Extra credit: Bernard and Albert should stake her through the heart and send her back to the fiery depths from which she came!"
In conclusion: MATH IS STUPID.