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RE: Help: Why no output?

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg34955] RE: [mg34941] Help: Why no output?
  • From: "DrBob" <majort at>
  • Date: Sat, 15 Jun 2002 02:27:40 -0400 (EDT)
  • Reply-to: <drbob at>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at


When you give no second argument to f, n is Sequence[]... a list of
arguments to place in some function, but a list of zero length!

Hence in that case

If[Length[{n}] == 1, n, Length[x]]

is just:

If[Length[{}] == 1, Length[x]]

(NO arguments are inserted at the position of n.)

Now, also


resolves to

Times[1, Sequence[]]

and hence to


and hence to


Therefore, when n=Sequence[], the following

If[Length[{n}] == 1, 1*n, Length[x]]

resolves to

If[Length[{}] == 1, 1, Length[x]]

which is just


Bobby Treat

-----Original Message-----
From: Kezhao Zhang [mailto:kzhang at] 
To: mathgroup at
Subject: [mg34955] [mg34941] Help: Why no output?

The behavior of the following function is puzzling to me:

In[1]:=f[x_, n___Integer] := If[Length[{n}] == 1, n  , Length[x]]
In[2]:=f[0.5]  (* Nothing returned. *)
In[3]:=f[{1,2}] (* Nothing returned. The length of x should be
returned *)
(* However, with the modification to f, everything works as intended
In[4]:=f[x_, n___Integer] := If[Length[{n}] == 1, 1*n  , Length[x]]

Could anyone help me understand why changing n to (1*n) in the If[]
statement makes such difference? Why doesn't f[] defined in the In[1]

Thanks for your help.

Kezhao Zhang

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