Re: A simple swap function

*Subject*: [mg2167] Re: A simple swap function*From*: wagner at bullwinkle.cs.Colorado.EDU (Dave Wagner)*Date*: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 05:59:02 GMT*Approved*: usenet@wri.com*Distribution*: local*Newsgroups*: wri.mathgroup*Organization*: University of Colorado, Boulder*Sender*: daemon at wri.com ( )

In article <44qj8g$s22 at ralph.vnet.net>, William F. Campbell <valentin at wam.umd.edu> wrote: > I think I must be missing something straightforward. I want a function >to swap the values of 2 lists. I defined ab={a,b}, and ba={b,a}, and >swap[v1_,v2_]:=Module[{temp=v1},v1=v2;v2=temp;], and I get an Iteration >limit exceeded error. When I look at ab, it looks like {Hold[a],Hold[b]} >(or maybe {Hold[b],Hold[a], I don't remember), and ba looks opposite. When >I tried to use the same function on numbers, it didn't work either. What's >wrong with what I'm doing, and how can I do what I want to do? The short answer is, you need to give your function the attribute HoldAll using "SetAttributes[swap, HoldAll]". The long answer is, don't do it. Held parameters have call-by-name semantics. (Look it up in a programming languages book if you don't know what that means.) To see why what you're doing is a bad idea, try evaluating "a = {1,3,2}; i = 2; swap[i, a[[i]]]" or "swap[a[[i]], [i]]". One of them will break horribly. It's been proven that there is no way to write a swap function using call-by-name parameters. Sorry that this reply is so terse, or that I can't give you references, but I'm doing this over a long-distance line at the moment. Dave Wagner Principia Consulting (303) 786-8371 dbwagner at princon.com http://www.princon.com/princon