There's a puzzling little problem I found in one of my old maths textbooks (Basics of Madthematics). In the middle of a whole bunch of normal problems on calculus and algebra and whatever, suddenly there's this. The book has no answers either, and while some of the questions are definitely tough, I've had a lot of trouble with this one. I've devised plenty of possible phrases over the years, but never found a solution that I feel reflects the whole problem, or has four different ways of constructing it from the puzzle. Thus I thought I'd bring the problem to this site, since I know many of the puzzlers here are brilliant. Based on the other problems in the book, I think concatenation (e.g. $ab$) represents multiplication as usual, even with spaces in between. I promise it's not homework, I just really want to know the solution! I've scanned the page and uploaded it; hopefully that doesn't breach copyright. Can anyone solve it?
A quick clarification, as there seems to have been some confusion expressed in the comments over the provenance of this puzzle. Basic of Madthematics is not a real book; the image is not a real scanned page (the text and background noise are different resolutions); the puzzle is in fact original and I therefore obviously know its solution.
I'd love to see this problem solved, so I'll put down my thoughts on it. So far, the bull has been noted; this seems to point to one way of interpreting the puzzle to devise a solution, i.e. interpreting the RHS components visually/semantically rather than mathematically. I suspect a form of cryptic clue plays a role here (and I think the wordplay/definition delimiter - and in some cases the definition itself - is so obvious as to make many of them trivial). One of the other 4 methods should be obvious from where I found the puzzle (in a maths textbook), and I think the other two will become clearer as you approach the solution, which I suspect is somewhat meta. I imagine it will be easier to pin down the exact solution once we have partial solutions by some of the 4 methods. Feel free to post partial answers!