I'm asked by my University Professor, Mandy, to come and see her in her office after class. "Somethin' wrong?" I keep thinking when I head to her office.

"You are elected to be our Math club's consultant and I can see why. However," as Mandy continues, "I will have you solve this question. If you fail to do so, I'll find somebody to take your place."

"Fair enough." I think.

And here's the question:    

e + f + 20 = 2  
c + d + 88 = 5  
c + d + e + f = ?  

Before I could write down -101 as the answer, Mandy mentioned the answer is not -101!

As I struggle, another student who passed by managed to see the question and said "It is too easy"

"Correct." said Mandy and the student became the Club's consultant instead.

What is the correct answer and, what happened?

Also, could you find all the hidden references in the question?

EDIT: I have made a mistake on the question posted and it's been edited. Unsure if it violate the rule I will go ahead and accept the correct answer

  • $\begingroup$ are all the grammar mistakes intentional? $\endgroup$
    – Slepz
    Jan 20 '16 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ Am I correct in assuming that the student was chosen for the consultancy position based on no more nor less information than is provided above? $\endgroup$ Jan 20 '16 at 19:28
  • $\begingroup$ omgomgomgomg I put a+b+c+d instead of b+c+d omgomgomg I will close this question $\endgroup$
    – Alex
    Jan 20 '16 at 20:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Alex I'm really confused... I see that originally the question said a+b+c+d=? and that was edited to say a+b+c=? but your previous comment suggests you edited it to b+c+d=? what is the correct question supposed to be? $\endgroup$
    – jhabbott
    Jan 20 '16 at 23:31
  • $\begingroup$ The way you've edited this makes -100 an arbitrary answer, c can equal anything. Maybe remove d entirely? $\endgroup$
    – Carl
    Jan 21 '16 at 5:19

The answer is

2 ("Two, easy!")
The answer is the number of circles (closed loops) in each problem - 2 in the first ('e', and the '0' of 20), 5 in the second ('d', and two each in the '8's), 2 in the third ('d' and 'e').

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ What about the closed loop of the 'a' in the third line? $\endgroup$
    – Rob Watts
    Jan 20 '16 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ @RobWatts yeah I missed this completely when I edited it to clean it up a little. $\endgroup$ Jan 20 '16 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! Fixed it! I was overlyexcited to be the first to answer! $\endgroup$
    – superefka
    Jan 20 '16 at 20:55
  • $\begingroup$ But then if it's three in the third, it's not two. $\endgroup$ Jan 20 '16 at 20:58
  • $\begingroup$ you're correct somehow after I put up my question incorrectly... I will accept your answer if I could, need some SE admin's assist =.= $\endgroup$
    – Alex
    Jan 20 '16 at 21:01

The answer is


Through rearrangement we get
a + b = -17
c + d = -83
therefore a + b + c + d = -17 + -83 = -100

Mandy was testing his confidence and since he hesitated to give the correct answer in the face of adversity she chose a different student who was more confident.


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