Posted by **Karen** on Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 5:21pm.

What do the brackets mean in this problem?

a[(b-c)/d]-f

Am I suppose to times the answer of everything in the parenthesis by a?

- Math -
**MathMate**, Thursday, August 16, 2012 at 5:50pm
The brackets [] are superfluous if the formula is entered into an algebraic calculator or if calculated by someone who follows the rules of algebraic priorities (x and ÷ before + and -), and from left to right for operators of the same priority.

So

a[(b-c)/d]-f

is mathematically the same as

a(b-c)/d-f

But

x-3/x+2 is NOT the same as

(x-3)/(x+2)

In the second expression, the parentheses () force the subtraction and addition to be performed before the division. Without the parentheses, the mathematical meaning of the expression is then

x - (3/x) + 2

which is completely different.

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