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When one has a

$$problem$$

in order to get to the

$$\sqrt{problem}$$

it's sometimes a good idea to get some confidence by embracing those parts of it one already knows

$$probl\underset{\overbrace{\text{I know this}}}{e}m$$

But it doesn't work for me and things get even worse:

$$\sqrt{probl\underset{\overbrace{\text{I know this}}}{e}m}$$

How can I format a brace to denote what some part of a formula expands to (for example)? Using \underset adds the brace to the set character, which results in strange spacing around it and unnecessarily large roots and other bracket like wrappers.

I'd like to create a brace that freely expands to the right without pushing any characters away. I can accomplish that with a dirty workaround: by including additional characters into the set and balancing them with ~ to get the middle where I want it.

$$p\underset{\overbrace{\text{I know this}}}{roblem~~~}$$

But sometimes not even that helps with the

$$\sqrt{p\underset{\overbrace{\text{I know this}}}{roblem~~~}}$$

The workaround still creates one big character for the set, which the \sqrt entirely encloses. How can I only surround a certain portion with the \sqrt or make the brace independent?

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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps $$\underset{\hspace{5ex}\overbrace{\text{I know this}}}{\sqrt{problem}}$$ is sufficiently close? $\endgroup$ – Daniel Fischer Aug 19 '15 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielFischer that looks great, I'd use a horizontal unit for the horizontal space, but then there isn't really any way to measure it anyway, so why bother using more plausible units for numbers that are just as empirically found as the others. thank you $\endgroup$ – null Aug 19 '15 at 21:51
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    $\begingroup$ Use \smash: tex.stackexchange.com/q/63250/1208 $\endgroup$ – Rahul Aug 20 '15 at 21:07
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    $\begingroup$ I just have to say that your choice of title for this question is brilliant. $\endgroup$ – wltrup Aug 20 '15 at 22:13

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