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Re: Is it possible for me to implement associative arrays this way?

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg66196] Re: Is it possible for me to implement associative arrays this way?
  • From: dh <dh at>
  • Date: Thu, 4 May 2006 05:19:36 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <e39k3l$cms$>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

Hi Don,
you can always unprotect a symbol (command Unprotect), define some new 
rules for this symbol and re-protect it again (command Protect).
However, I do not understand what you want to do with an "associative 
array". I understand this term to mean an un-ordered array. In this case 
this is much better implemented by a function. e.g.

We want to assigne:
this is easily done by:
f[3]=30; f[6]=60; f[9]=90


Don Taylor wrote:
> I've tried searching the net to see if I could find an answer before
> I bothered folks with this.
> I wrote a little bit of code to help someone out.  It would have
> been very convenient and clear if I could have used short lists as
> subscripts, something similar to AWK's associative arrays, not what
> Mathematica usually does with lists as subscripts.
> With experimenting I think I see how Mathematica uses
>    {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6}[[2]];
>    {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6}[[{2,3,4}]];
>    x={1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6};
>    x[[2]];
>    x[[2]]=4;
>    x[[{2, 3, 4}]] = 5
>    x[[{2, 3, 4}]] = {5, 4, 3}
> and even a bit oddly
>    x[[{2, 3, 4}]] = {5, 4, 3, 2, 1}
> But the the syntax
>    {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6}[[{{2,3,4}}]]
> is not currently used by Mathematica.  In other words when a Part
> specification is not an integer or list of integers this isn't used.
> So, is there some way I could unprotect some bit of Mathematica,
> insert a tiny bit of code such that if a Part specification was a
> list of a list that it would create a table to implement the
> associative array, and then reprotect Mathematica, for use both on
> the left and right side of '='?
> This would be really convenient and not seem to subvert the
> principles too much that Mathematica tries to use.
> Thank you

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