I'm sure this has been dealt with before, but I couldn't find an answer.

I remember having a discussion with a math professor a while back on solving -x^2, leaving it in disagreement. I was suddenly reminded that it remained unsolved in my mind, so I ask you all now.

In particular, the portion of the problem was to simplify -3^2. It was obvious in my mind that it should be -9, but I was told that it is in fact 9. Now, we had a fairly long discussion on it, but the point came down to whether it was a minus sign in front, and implicitly 0 - 3^2, or whether it indicated -3.

Perhaps I'm looking at it from more of a CS perspective, but I would have assumed (or liked to believe) that unless it was emphasized with parenthesis, that the minus sign should be separate.

What do you all think?