Wednesday, August 27, 2008

[{(delimiters)}]

This morning we were looking at some style issues and suddenly i came across something that made me sit up. "What is this? You have it wrong here," I asserted vehemently, because what I had in front of me was definitely wrong, and far away from the truth about mathematical equations that I learned in school. the style guide had the braces as the outermost brackets in a mathematical equation, in this sequence: {[(blah blah) x blah] + blah blah}. the person with whom i was looking at the stuff, somehow felt this is correct, but given her mathematical acumen (or what I believed was utter lack of it) I didn't pay much heed to what she had to offer. I know what it is like:

[{()}]

And I couldn't be wrong.

So I wrote both [{()}] and {[()]} on a piece of paper and went around our bay, to almost twenty people, quizzing them about what they thought was right. Some had always used the former, while some others, hold your breath now, had actually used the latter. So, soon we had two groups discussing and debating which one is right. Veena, from the publishing team, came to me with a photocopy from some style manual, which supported {[()]}. A vice president with a consulting company told me it is [{()}] and also that her son learns the same thing in his ICSE school.
Soon the entire office was abuzz with this issue and gradually we were losing out, the supporters of [{()}], that is. Only Lata Sundar was kinda nonchalant about it. Although she felt [{()}] is correct, she was the only one who didn't feel too strongly about it. How does it matter, she felt, as long as it is consistently used?

Meanwhile, some people looked up the Web and someone looked up the Chicago Manual of Style and it was {[()]} all over. I hadn't really ruled out writing to the Chicago Manual board of editors and wasn't ready to accept something other than what I had learned in school. It was like my faith being shaken. It turned out that the ICSE board still uses [{()}] while the CBSE changed to {[()]} according to some international rules, but it still wasn't clear.

I was constantly asking people around over chat and over phone about what they thought was right, still trying to digest the thought that some conspiracy this big could be hatched behind my back without me having an inkling about it, when I remembered to call up doc.

"What do you use doc? Do you keep braces or brackets at the extreme ends?"

"Oh, Arijit, braces and brackets are basically the same thing. Braces are made of metal or plastic, braces include brackets attached to the teeth and wires that connect them...
... but wait a second! I thought you needed a root canal treatment, and not braces! Where did this question come from?"

And I realized, the sequence didn't matter after all.

10 comments:

Wriju said...

I searched on the net briefly on the topic and was just as shocked as you to discover that almost all the articles promulgate {[()]} But thats because most of the articles originate in the US where they call BODMAS as PEMDAS. Its probable that in UK, Australia, NZ and India, people are wont to use [{()}].

Rocky said...

English is funny either way. So many types on it. I guess its a case like 's' and 'z'. Or color and colour ;). Ogry - just check with your client - what they want and follow it quietly

Manic Street Preacher said...

its amazing now that you write ur own stuff, its good to read. its like ur personal thing.
to answer ur question, i dunno which blog im active on.i have this COLLECTION of memories, and things are happenin so fast, but i cant write. just cant bring myself to write.
so im off for a while. meanwhile, i accumulate and assort my stories. i have a feeling that if i dont write them down, they'd never be told.
good that uve come back. good posts.
\m/

Lazyani said...

You, of all people, breaking your head on Mathematical symbols? What is the world coming to!!

By the way, since you, even you, can delve into mathematical symbol sequencing, all such sequence of using brackets can become acceptable:)

Just to remind you , these are called first bracket, second bracket and third bracket resp and going by mathematical code of 3>2>1, it should be [{()}].

Trust the Americans to break conventions and propagate it through others.:)

Should I end with QED.:)))))

the mad momma said...

just caught up with a bunch of your posts. its been ages since i went on ryze and i cant believe we havent even dropped each other a line!

http://thebratthebeanandbedlam.wordpress.com/

Roop said...

lol classic example of 'to each their own' ;)

Roop said...

wha? u used to be on ryze??!??!?!

Doc said...

Should send it to the middle of Deccan Herald

[{( Nice write up ! )}]

Doc said...

Should send it to the middle of Deccan Herald

[{( Nice write up ! )}]

Oreen said...

doc, thanks for letting me know your pref...

roop, do drop by oftener...

manic and mad momma, nice to get in touch with you guys after pretty long...

and everybody, thanks for your comments... the next one is on cynicism...