What is the purpose of the Defer Command?

*To*: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net*Subject*: [mg81868] What is the purpose of the Defer Command?*From*: "David Park" <djmpark at comcast.net>*Date*: Fri, 5 Oct 2007 04:53:19 -0400 (EDT)

I do not understand the utility of the new Defer statement in Mathematica Version 6. Also, it seems to me to be similar to, but not as good as, the HoldTemporary command introduced by Ted Ersek on MathSource a few years ago. The help for Defer says: "Defer[expr] yields an object that displays as the unevaluated form of expr, but which is evaluated if it is explicitly given as Mathematica input." What does 'given as Mathematica input' mean? The examples seem to only involve copying and pasting, which I don't consider a great method for doing mathematics, or evaluation in place. I would like to understand how Defer might be used in expository notebooks to clarify some piece of mathematics. The problem is that it requires an interactive action, which would be invisible to a reader of a notebook. I think the idea of 'modification in place' is poor in technical communication because it destroys the record of what was done. (In the examples below, whenever an output resulted in an expression that copied as a box structure, I converted to InputForm to simplify the posting.) Here is a simple example: y = Defer[1 + 1] 1 + y giving 1 + 1 1 + (1 + 1) I would prefer that the Defer expression would have evaluated in the second statement but I guess it is logical that it didn't. If I write: 1 + y then select the y and Evaluate In Place I obtain the following, which must then be further evaluated to obtain 3. 1 + 1 + 1 3 A second example. I want to show an integral without evaluation and then the evaluated result. I have to write the following expression, then select the second line of output, evaluate in place, and then I obtain the result - but as an Input cell. This is certainly a place where HoldForm would be better. Defer[Integrate[x^2 Exp[-x], {x, 0, 1}]] % giving Integrate[x^2/E^x, {x, 0, 1}] 2 - 5/\[ExponentialE] (which is an Input cell) Here is third example. Defer does not evaluate and we obtain an error message. numb = Defer[2^67 - 1] FactorInteger[numb] giving 2^67 - 1 FactorInteger::"exact" : "\"Argument \!\(\*SuperscriptBox[\"2\", \ \"67\"]\) - 1 in FactorInteger[\!\(\*SuperscriptBox[\"2\", \"67\"]\) \ - 1] is not an exact number\"" FactorInteger[2^67 - 1] But it works if I copy and paste into FactorInteger. Now, look at the behavior of Ted's MathSource package. Needs["Enhancements`HoldTemporary`"] y = HoldTemporary[1 + 1] 1 + y giving 1 + 1 3 The expression is evaluated if it is an argument of some function. HoldTemporary[Integrate[x^2 Exp[-x], {x, 0, 1}]] Identity[%] giving Integrate[x^2/E^x, {x, 0, 1}] 2 - 5/\[ExponentialE] (which is an Output cell) numb = HoldTemporary[2^67 - 1] FactorInteger[numb] giving 2^67 - 1 {{193707721, 1}, {761838257287, 1}} Much better. I might be missing the point, but I don't think that Defer is at all well designed. There is another Hold that is very useful. This is one that holds an operation but evaluates the arguments. We have a HoldOp statement in the Tensorial package. Needs["TensorCalculus4V6`Tensorial`"] ?HoldOp HoldOp[operation][expr] will prevent the given operation from being evaluated in expr. Nevertheless, other operations within expr will be evaluated. Operation may be a pattern, including alternatives, that represents heads of expressions. The HoldOp can be removed with ReleaseHold. One reason we want the arguments to evaluate is that the arguments often contain tensor shortcut expressions and we want them evaluated to show the full tensor expression inside some operation. However, there are many other uses. f[x_] := Sin[x] \[ExponentialE]^x We would like f[x] to be evaluated inside the Integrate statement, but hold the actual itegration. Integrate[f[x], {x, 0, \[Pi]}] // HoldOp[Integrate] % // ReleaseHold giving HoldForm[Integrate[E^x*Sin[x], {x, 0, Pi}]] 1/2 (1 + \[ExponentialE]^\[Pi]) For exposition purposes we might want to keep the following expression in the input order. \[Pi] Sin[x] \[ExponentialE]^x // HoldOp[Times] % // ReleaseHold giving HoldForm[Pi*Sin[x]*E^x] \[ExponentialE]^x \[Pi] Sin[x] Often we will have cases where some operation has automatic built-in rules, such as linear and Leibnizian breakouts with differentiation. Again, for exposition purposes, we might want to show the expression before these rules are applied. g[x_] := x^2 D[a f[x] g[x], x] // HoldOp[D] % // ReleaseHold giving HoldForm[D[a*E^x*x^2*Sin[x], x]] a \[ExponentialE]^x x^2 Cos[x] + 2 a \[ExponentialE]^x x Sin[x] + a \[ExponentialE]^x x^2 Sin[x] -- David Park djmpark at comcast.net http://home.comcast.net/~djmpark/

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