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Re: Behavior of Array[]

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg19479] Re: Behavior of Array[]
  • From: paulh at (P.J. Hinton)
  • Date: Sat, 28 Aug 1999 15:53:07 -0400
  • Organization: "Wolfram Research, Inc."
  • References: <7q20js$>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

In article <7q20js$q91 at>, jslater at (Joseph C. Slater) writes:

>I've been using Mathematica for many years and one thing still puzzles me.
>Elements of the array defined by the variable 'a' can be obtained using
>a[[i,j]]=expression. However, the command Array creates arrays comprised
>of elements named in the form 'a[i,j]'. Note the single brackets.
>Everything I see in the Mathematica book about brackets says that these
>are functions. This seems inconsistant to me. Shouldn't they be listed as
>'a[[i,j]]' until they are defined? What are the single brackets supposed
>to mean if not elements of the array 'a'?

Single square brackets delimit the elements of a Mathematica 

	h[e1, e2, ..., en]

Since it is possible to associate rules that replace certain classes of
expressions with other expressions, the most common interpretation of
single square brackets is to indicate evaluation of a function (h)
for the sequence of arguments e1, e2, ..., en.

The use of double square brackets is a short form of the function
Part[], which is used to extract elements from an expression.

For your example, a[i, j] simply denotes an expression which has
a Symbol head named a and Symbol elements named i and j.  In writing
a[[i, j]], you are telling the kernel to extract element of the 
expression a that is at the position i j.

This example demonstrates how single and double brackets serve 
different purposes.

In[1]:= q = Array[a, {2,2}]

Out[1]= {{a[1, 1], a[1, 2]}, {a[2, 1], a[2, 2]}}

In[2]:= a[2, 1] = 3

Out[2]= 3

In[3]:= q

Out[3]= {{a[1, 1], a[1, 2]}, {3, a[2, 2]}}

In[4]:= q[[2,1]]

Out[4]= 3

P.J. Hinton
Mathematica Programming Group           paulh at
Wolfram Research, Inc.
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone.

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