Celeste Ng – a novelist – shared a bizarre math question comprised of a system of equations that her 9-yr-old son made up over dinner.

She’s right about one thing though; trying to make use of simultaneous equations really makes this whole process complicated. However, there is a trick to it given that you are able to spot it first! The secret lies in the second line of this math problem.

When you have a squared term in the mix, it’s like having a golden ticket because it helps you to know that you are dealing with squares that might fit the bill. There could be negative and non-integer solutions to this quiz. So, how exactly do you solve this? Let’s focus on the second equation and you can easily guess that f=1. Using that, one realizes that c=5. That leads us to calculate the value of a to be 4 and the value of e to be 7.

Here’s what makes this whole process troublesome; it is next to impossible(not entirely but quite hard to pull it off) if you are relying on linear algebra. Some might ask that why is it so? The answer is quite simple actually; these are not your regular linear equations. As soon as the nine-year-old decided to use multiplication between variables in these equations; things got much more complicated.

The multiplication led to the creation of a quadratic equation but luckily, in this case, it is a quadratic expression with the difference of two squares along with the middle term falling away during cross multiplication. Furthermore, the ac – e equation is much more like bilinear where two variables end up being multiplied together thus making it a bit difficult to solve it as opposed to a straightforward linear equation set.

Do let us know what you think of this amazing math problem!