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Express This!

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Instructions

Object of the Game
To create the game's target number, using only the specified digits and the standard arithmetic operations, in the simplest and shortest possible way.

Game Play
The site will select a four-digit number, and three one-digit numbers. Use these three digits as many times as you want, combined using the standard arithmetic operators: multiplication, division, addition, subtraction, and exponents. Parentheses may also be used, to specify evaluation order. In the absence of parentheses, the game uses standard order of operations to evaluate your expression.

Type your combination of numbers and symbols in the large black text area in the middle of the screen. Press the "equals" key or the "enter" key when you are ready to have the computer evaluate your expression.

If your expression does not evaluate to the target number, the game will tell you what the expression's value is, and you can try again.

The operations are addition (+), subtraction (-), multiplication (*), division (/), and exponent (^) - for example, 2^3 means "two cubed".

Options
You may choose to either use your keyboard, or the game's built-in keypad. The keypad is the same keypad that is used in the Operations game and the One to Ten game. It is less robust than using your keyboard, but if you are using a mobile device, it may be less cumbersome than your touch keyboard.

Scoring
Your score is based solely on how short your expression is; there is no penalty for mistakes, or for the amount of time spent. Thus, if your expression was "(2422+442)*2", your score would be 12, because including the numbers, operators, and parentheses, your expression uses 12 characters.

Since the goal is to write an expression as short as possible, a low score is therefore the winning score.

The Daily Express This!
Each day the site selects one Express This! puzzle as the daily puzzle. This is for people who want to all compete using the same digits and target number. Throughout the day, you can keep coming back to the Express This! page to see what the daily's best score is, and try to beat it.

The daily puzzle will only have one winner, and a tie goes to the person who gets the score first.

Each day you can see the winning solution for the previous day's daily puzzle, which may give you ideas and inspiration for ways to improve your own scores.

Try Again?
Can you try the puzzle more than once? Yes! Each day you may try the same puzzle as many times as you like. Keep trying again and again until you beat the puzzle's high score. Unlike many of our puzzles, which only have one solution, there are many solutions for each Express This! puzzle. The challenge is to find the best one.

Here's an example. Suppose the target number is 4317, and the digits are 2,1, and 7. Here are some possible solutions:

  • (7+2+1)^2(7(7-1)+1)+17
  • 2^(7+7-2)+221
  • (71*7+2+1)(7+2)-172-7-2-2

Of the solutions shown here, the second one is the best scoring possibility, with a score of 13.

More Helpful Hints
Keep in mind that an expression like 33 x 7 + 37 x 7 can be significantly simplified by using the distributive property: (33 + 37) x 7. Furthermore, the game will correctly interpret your answer without the multiplication symbol: 7(33 + 37), making the answer even shorter.

If you have an expression like this: 7x3x(3+7), you can get rid of both multiplication symbols by rearranging the order: 7(3+7)3.

Sometimes, rather than aiming for the target number, it can be helpful to aim for a number that's near it, if you have a simple way to make up the difference.

Exponents are a great way to get a large value quickly.

Don't forget that you can combine digits into two - or more - digit numbers!

Also, even though your target number is a four-digit number, there may be cases where it's helpful to have part of your expression evaluate to a five digit-number.


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