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MathGroup Archive 2007

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Re: Problem with Mathematica 6

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg77087] Re: [mg77065] Problem with Mathematica 6
  • From: Carl Woll <carlw at>
  • Date: Sun, 3 Jun 2007 06:09:04 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <>

Michael Weyrauch wrote:

>  the following code fragment runs under Mathematica 5.2 but
>produces an infinite recursion error in Mathematica 6.0 in certain cases:
>First I define a number of commands and slightly change the
>built-in command "NonCommutativeMultiply":
>Grading[_] = 0;
>Fermion[a__] := ((Grading[#1] = 1) & ) /@ {a};
>Fermion[a, b];
>GetGradeds[a___] := GetGradeds[a] = Select[{a}, Grading[#1] != 0 & ];
>NonCommutativeMultiply[a___] /; (Length[GetGradeds[a]] <= 1) := Times[a];
>If you now e.g. evaluate
>In[22]:= k ** l
>Out[22]= k*l
>In[23]:= a ** l
>Out[23]= a*l
>BUT in Mathematica 6.0:
>In[24]:= a ** b
>$IterationLimit::"itlim" : "Iteration limit of 4096 exceeded. \
>Out[24]= Hold[(Times[a]) ** b]
>However in Mathematica 5.2 one gets
>In[10]:= a ** b
>which is what I expect and I want to have.
>I.e., whenever I NonCommutativeMultiply two variables which are explicitly declared as fermions by the command Fermion[], I get an 
>infinite recursion error in Mathematica 6.
>This behaviour of Mathematica 6.0 is rather confusing to me, since I believe that I just use very basic and elementary assignments 
>in my code. Why shouldn't it work  under Mathematica 6.0 if it works under 5.2? It appears that the 6.0 kernel behaves differently than the 
>5.2 kernel in such basic situations. Very unpleasant!
>(For anyone who wonders about the purpose of  this (strange) code: It is a small fragment of a package  that implements the handling 
>of Grassmann variables. I just extracted that bit in order to show the Mathematica 6.0 problem.)
>Furthermore, beyond an explanation of this unexpected behaviour of Mathematica 6, I would like to find a workaround in Mathematica 6 such that I get 
>the same result as in Mathematica 5.2.
>Thanks for any suggestions.
>Michael Weyrauch
The problem is that NonCommutativeMultiply is Flat and OneIdentity, so I 


is being interpreted as 
NonCommutativeMultiply[NonCommutativeMultiply[a],b] which gets converted 
to NonCommutativeMultiply[Times[a],b] and then 
NonCommutativeMultiply[a,b] and so you get an iteration error. To avoid 
this Flat issue, use HoldPattern:

HoldPattern[NonCommutativeMultiply][a___] /; (Length[GetGradeds[a]] <= 
1) := Times[a];

Now, it works:

In[347]:= a ** b
Out[347]= a**b

Carl Woll
Wolfram Research

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