Assuming that by <a,b> you meant "the group spanned by a and b", the order does not matter. In that case the notation <a, b> -- as well as <b, a> -- means: take elements a and b and multiply them and their inverses until you get a group. Actually, it means: take the smallest group of which a and b are elements. In particular this means that both ab and ba must be elements of both <a, b> and <b, a>. Actually, a more concise notation would be: <{a, b}>