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MathGroup Archive 2006

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Re: HoldFirst confusion

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg65562] Re: HoldFirst confusion
  • From: dave at
  • Date: Fri, 7 Apr 2006 06:14:41 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <e1095n$lkf$><e12tqd$jj3$>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

Jon Harrop wrote:
> Yaroslav Bulatov wrote:
> > The following gives an error
> > f = 5; f[a_] = a
> >
> > Set is HoldFirst, so why does it evaluate it's first argument f[a_]?
> Conversely, why do the attributes of Set and SetDelayed indicate that they
> hold their first argument when the kernel evaluates it.
> On a related note, how can you define and use a downvalue that matches
> g[1+2] without evaluating the 1+2?
> --
> Dr Jon D Harrop, Flying Frog Consultancy Ltd.


The point about HoldFirst is that it suppresses the automatic
evaluation of arguments before a function is called. It is easy to
write a function that has attribute HoldFirst but evaluates its
argument somewhere in its body - all that is necessary is to pass it on
to a deeper function that does not hold the argument!

Regarding the definition of g, the following seems to work:


David Bailey

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