1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

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

  1. Jul 9, 2008 #1
    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


    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.


    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. jcsd
  3. Jul 9, 2008 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I thought {} were parentheses.
  4. Jul 9, 2008 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

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

    But they are "multiplying out" whatever you want to call the symbols!
  5. Jul 9, 2008 #4
    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.
  6. Jul 10, 2008 #5
    Thanks for the replies everyone, I'll go with "multiplying out the parentheses".
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook