# Short but impossible math problem

Given these four equations/inequalities:

1x=2
2x=4
3x=3
4x>8


What is x?

The "<" symbol

Why?

In some programming languages, "<=" means "is less than or equal to", and "<>" means "is not equal to".

• From here: "Just for trivia, <> was chosen in some languages because it can be interpreted as "less than or greater than", or in other words, not equal." (The longer you live ...) – tomd Jul 25 '20 at 21:30
• And <> is not necessarily the same as !=. Some objects it doesn't make sense to compare < or >. – qwr Jul 25 '20 at 22:11
• Precisely correct! – Ed Marty Jul 25 '20 at 23:16
• Hah. And here I though it was about x being another representation of >< in a smaller print. – ChatterOne Jul 27 '20 at 10:31

a variable (as in programming)

That's because

the given "equations/inequalities" are in fact (some dialect of) BASIC code, so 1,2,3,4 at the beginning of the each line are just labels/line numbers. So, it's a perfectly valid program consisting of 3 assignments (lines 1-3) to the same variable x and 1 comparison in line 4 (the result of which is not assigned to any variable). Better formatting and comments:


1 x = 2 'assign 2 to x (creating a new variable, declaration is not required in BASIC)
2 x = 4 'assign 4 to x
3 x = 3 'assign 3 to x
4 x > 8 'compare x with 8, returning false (0)


P.S.

If x is required to be a number, my answer is x = 3 (this will be the value of x after running this code).

• Very clever! Headed in the right direction, but not what I was going for. Also, your P.S. is not necessary, because rot13(k vf abg n ahzore) – Ed Marty Jul 25 '20 at 7:55
• rot13(vs vg jnf onfvp gurer jbhyq unir orra fcnprf orgjrra gur ynoryf/yvar ahzoref naq gur pbzznaqf) – melfnt Jul 25 '20 at 10:56

X could be operator (IS NOT)

!


Because

1x=2
2x=4
3x=3
4x>8


are always either true or false conditions in any programming language.

1!=2    //Always True
2!=4    //Always True
3!=3    //Always False
4!>8    //Always True

• Huh? What language supports !> ? – Loren Pechtel Jul 28 '20 at 0:14
• @LorenPechtel You are right .. thank you for ponting out mistake. – Nikhil Sharma Jul 28 '20 at 2:19
• @LorenPechtel T-SQL – gszavae Jul 28 '20 at 8:13

x could be:

(π/2)!

where the

! is a not operator

• ! seems more like a factorial in the last context at least. – Ed Marty Jul 26 '20 at 16:03
• Seconded--! as negation precedes, not follows. Trailing it only means factorial. – Loren Pechtel Jul 28 '20 at 0:15
• @LorenPechtel In the context, the first line would be read 1(p/2)!=2 where "!=" means "not equals". – gszavae Jul 28 '20 at 8:10