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MathGroup Archive 2005

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Match exactly zero or one

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg60518] Match exactly zero or one
  • From: "Trevor Baca" <trevorbaca at>
  • Date: Mon, 19 Sep 2005 04:45:38 -0400 (EDT)
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

What's the easiest way to match exactly zero or one expressions within,
say, MatchQ[ ]?

For example: call any expression expr a well-formed foo when and only
when (1) the head of expr equals foo; (2) the first element of expr is
either 0 or 1 bar expressions; (3) the last element of expr is an
integer. Then neither the  predicate ...

   FooQ[expr_] := MatchQ[expr, foo[_bar, _Integer]]

... nor ...

   FooQ[expr_] := MatchQ[expr, foo[__bar, _Integer]]

... nor ...

   FooQ[expr_] := MatchQ[expr, foo[___bar, _Integer]]

... accurately capture the definition of foo.

For string-matching there's the ? operator; but what's the best
approach for expression-matching?

(FWIW Gavin Scott posed this question in December 2000, but I couldn't
find an answer in the thread.)


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