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When I first learned linear algebra, both the professor and the book used brackets like [ and ] to enclose matrices. However, in my current differential equations textbook, matrices are enclosed by parenthesis, and I suddenly realize everybody else are using them too.

So are brackets/parenthesis for enclosing matrices always totally interchangeable?

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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It is just a question of notation and what you are comfortable with. The only thing you might want to be aware is |A| stands for determinant of the matrix A and hence cannot be used in place of () or [] to represent the matrix

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Could you please email me at my first.lastname@gmail.com –  Bill Dubuque Dec 17 '13 at 7:31
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Welcome back, @BillDubuque! –  The Chaz 2.0 Dec 17 '13 at 15:44
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They're interchangeable. I think a lot of people tend to use parentheses just because they're easier to write by hand.

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@Michale Lugo: and less easy to confuse with vertical bars, which denote determinants (at least to me)... –  Arturo Magidin Nov 10 '10 at 5:09
    
I actually used to hate parentheses for matrices for some reason; it always seemed "less rigorous." Then I had to TA for linear algebra... It is much easier to slap some parentheses on the board than brackets =) –  Bey Nov 10 '10 at 6:03
    
Bey, I'm teaching game theory this semester. Lots of matrices. You bet I'm using parentheses. (And I even use parentheses in things I write up in LaTeX, like solutions to the homework, just for consistency.) –  Michael Lugo Nov 10 '10 at 16:02
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There are three notations for matrices, (),[ ] and ll ll . Use the one with which you are comfortable with.

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