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In trying to learn more about quantum computing, one of the first things encountered is a definition of the inner product $\langle a|b\rangle$. If I interpret it correctly, and looking near the bottom of page 15 of the 2011 book by Rieffel and Polak, this notation is shorthand for writing $\langle a||b\rangle$. Is that correct, or is my understanding flawed?

It may seem as though it is obvious (or obviously wrong), but so far I have found it strangely rare to see this explicitly stated. I would welcome some confirmation or correction.

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Your understanding is correct. $\langle a | b \rangle$ is shorthand for $\langle a||b\rangle$. Here is a good resource for linear algebra and Dirac notation for quantum computing.

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