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 Question from Ricky: Why must we have brackets around matrices. Why don't we just neatly write an array of entries cross-wise and up and down to indicate a particular matrix?

Ricky,

The array you describe is called a table. If you want to turn your table into an algebraic object that can be added or multiplied, then you must put brackets around it. Brackets are used in mathematics to turn a collection of items into a single object -- other examples are sums as in
$5 \times (3+4)$
and the input of a function as in
$f(x^2) \mbox{ or } (a+b)^{.5}.$

Chris

Math Central is supported by the University of Regina and The Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences.