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How can story points be "non linear" in relative size

I've read in several places that story points are not necessarily linear.

i.e., an "8 point" task is not the same as two 4 point tasks and so on.

I totally get the argument about these being an indication of complexity rather than time taken.

But if they're not a linear scale, then how can you do arithmetic on them? If an 8 story point takes, say, 3 times longer than 2 x 4 story points, then how do burndown charts work from an arithmetic point of view?

If our velocity is, say, 30 a sprint then this means we could do 30 x 1 story point features. But these might be, 30 half an hour jobs. Equally if it was 2 x 15 story point features, these are probably monster tasks which seems equally unlikely.

Perhaps I am wrong in my assertion that they are non-linear?

Or can anyone explain this to me?

Thanks!