The word “bracket” is multiply salient in this post, and so I figured that it would be fun to, as has become somewhat customary in my posts, to explore the different denotations and connotations of the word.  Let me touch on two different types of brackets.

The types of brackets on most people’s mind right now: March Madness brackets!  Indeed, one use of the word “bracket” is to describe the visual representation of a single- or double-elimination tournament.  (I guess it could be used for other tournaments as well, but it is most frequently for elimination tournaments.)

Although one could list all of the games in Game-By-Game format, it can be somewhat lengthy to do that. Consider the following hypothetical eight-team single-elimination tournament. Here is the schedule of contests written out in a list format:

Game 1: Team A vs. Team B.
Game 2: Team C vs. Team D.
Game 3: Team E vs. Team F.
Game 4: Team G vs. Team H.

Game 5: Winner of Game 1 vs. winner of Game 2
Game 6: Winner of Game 3 vs. winner of Game 4

Game 7: Winner of Game 5 vs. winner of Game 6

And here it is in a bracket (visual) format:


(Pardon me for the lines not being the same length: I quickly did it in Paint…)

I don’t know about you, but I prefer the visual format for the schedule of matches for an elimination tournament.

I filled out two different brackets for both the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments.  The men’s brackets are more realistic, but one of the women’s brackets is idealistic, hoping that Northwestern and Nebraska will meet in the Final Four. But, as 7- and 9-seeds respectively, the most likely result is that both are defeated in the second round.

So, one use of the word “bracket” is to describe a schedule of matches in a tournament.

Another use of the word is to describe delimiters. In particular, [this clause is enclosed in brackets.] Notice the same “structure” of the delimiter as the tournament schedule above. Indeed, these are called square brackets. There are also angled brackets, i.e. <what I am enclosing THIS clause in.>  I guess it’s sort of funny… the delimiters that most people think about are the parentheses.

Why did I think about this use of brackets? Take a look at the title of this post–it’s the first time in 440 posts (and first time since 2013) that my post title did NOT include square brackets in it!

Speaking of that, since I now have no countdown or countup, I want to introduce a signoff that I considered earlier. I just used my touch-screen with Pain to develop this signature, based loosely off my day separator that I had in college in class notes.

blog signature


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