# Homework Help: Parentheses or brackets (US/UK terminology question)

1. Jul 9, 2008

### heth

1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

I'm trying to find out how people in the USA would refer to the following operations - i.e. what name would you give the process of doing something like this:

a(a + b) = a^2 + ab

(a + b)^2 = (a + b)(a + b) = a^2 + 2ab + b^2

2. Relevant equations

N/A.

3. The attempt at a solution

I have a number of US physics books, but they don't cover algebra. All of my math(s) books are UK or international.I would call the above operation 'multiplying out the brackets', e.g.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/maths/algebra/symbolsrev4.shtml

But I believe that in the USA, () are called parentheses - so there must be different terminology for the operation as well? As I don't know what it is, I don't know what to search for using a search engine! So any light that can be shed on the subject would be gratefully received - thanks in advance.

2. Jul 9, 2008

I thought {} were parentheses.

3. Jul 9, 2008

### HallsofIvy

No, "(" and ")" are "parentheses". "{" and "}" are braces.

But they are "multiplying out" whatever you want to call the symbols!

4. Jul 9, 2008

### jimvoit

The computer algebra system Mathematica uses the term "Bracketing" in the following way:

Four kinds of bracketing:
(term) parenthesis for grouping
f[x] square brackets for functions
{a,b,c} curly braces for lists
v[] double brackets for indexing

Notice that "bracket" is used here as a specific and generic term.

I dont think you are going to find uniformity here.

5. Jul 10, 2008

### heth

Thanks for the replies everyone, I'll go with "multiplying out the parentheses".