Justin Trudeau, algebra, attack ads and Michael Dukakis - Macleans.ca

Justin Trudeau, algebra, attack ads and Michael Dukakis

Changing the channel, circa 1988


Jonathan Kay checks the math behind Justin Trudeau in the new Liberal ad.

My only real complaint with the ad is the set of polynomial expressions written on the blackboard. The first three are all correct. But on the fourth, they failed to simplify the expression (4x + 6)(x+2). Someone seems to have started, with the incorrect formulation “4×2=8x” … which seems to be a botched effort to capture the terms 4x-squared and 8x, which would have been derived by correctly unpacking the remaining unsolved polynomial. But then they gave up (and, oddly, added in a spurious equals sign). Perhaps the camera crew was getting impatient.

For confirmation, the National Post consults mathematicians.

Meanwhile, Dave Wiegel recalls Michael Dukakis.

The “responding to an attack ad” ad is actually a genre unto itself in the United States—see here, here, here or here, for example.