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The video below shows a textbook being flipped open and a smartphone pointed at a dense page of calculations. But this isn’t someone Instagramming their homework; the phone scans the equations on its screen and solves them, each solution popping up instantly with a satisfying click.
The footage – created to promote a new algebra-solving app called PhotoMath – has been passed around online both by people lamenting the downfall of education and students gleefully ready to automate their homework.
It looked too good to be true. As a maths enthusiast with no shortage of equations to solve, I grabbed some algebra books off my shelf and took PhotoMath for a test lap.
First, I tried some of the problems in a modern primary school maths book. Faced with worded problems and maths being used in context, the app was helpless. It could not help Choi work out how many birthday cards he had if his family gave him seven and his friends gave him 16. And I don’t think Sheena and Grant ever worked out who won their game of darts. But I eventually found some classic arithmetic addition problems, and PhotoMath solved them all with ease.
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Source: The Guardian