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Re: How to convert string to variable name

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg39892] Re: How to convert string to variable name
  • From: atelesforos at (Orestis Vantzos)
  • Date: Sun, 9 Mar 2003 18:40:14 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <b49n66$fdc$> <b4f5fq$7du$>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

Bob, if you want to get to that kind of programming (scripting
Mathematica inside Mathematica) it pays to understand the way things
are evaluated in Mathematica.
Symbol["x"] IS indeed the 'natural' way to create a symbol named x.
To answer your question on why Symbol["x"]=13 does not work, try 
ToExpression["x"]=13. doesn't work either.
The answer is that Set(=) has the Attribute HoldFirst which keeps the
left-hand side of the assignment from being created.
A direct solution is Evaluate[Symbol["x"]]=13 or

Now, you seem to believe that ToExpression["x=13"] is the way to do
I do not agree:
the string inside ToExpression does not interact properly with scoping
constructs like Module,With and asignments.
The scoping constructs just can't see the symbols inside the string!

I think the best way to go is something like:
...stuff with var...


Bob Harris <NspamITmeLION at MINDnotSPRING.COM> wrote in message news:<b4f5fq$7du$1 at>...
> I wrote:
> >> ... for a given string, how can I assign to the variable whose name is
> >> defined by that string?
> and Hermann Schmitt replied:
> > I would do it the following way:
> > ToExpression["z = ....."];
> Thanks, that appears to be what I want.  I just have to build a string that
> contains the entire assignment.
> A couple people suggested using Symbol[], but I don't see how that would
> work.  For example,
>     Symbol["x"] = 13
> doesn't create a symbol x with value 13.  Instead, it simply produces an
> error message informing me that "Tag Symbol in Symbol["x"] is Protected."
> Thanks,
> Bob H

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