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MathGroup Archive 2007

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Re: Single-step evaluation in Mathematica

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg81283] Re: [mg81235] Single-step evaluation in Mathematica
  • From: Andrzej Kozlowski <akoz at>
  • Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2007 00:45:35 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <>

On 17 Sep 2007, at 16:32, Szabolcs Horv=E1t wrote:

> I would like to have a function, hasOwnValue, that takes the name of a
> symbol as a string, and tells whether the symbol has an own-value.  It
> should do this without evaluating the value of the symbol.
> Examples:
> abc := Print["side effect"]
> xyz =.
> In := hasOwnValue["abc"] (* "side effect" must not be printed *)
> Out = True
> In := hasOwnValue["xyz"]
> Out = False
> How can I achieve this?
> This is a practical problem that I ran into, but the general question
> is:  What do you do when you feel the need for *single-step 
> evaluation*
> in Mathematica?  E.g. how can I manipulate/transform held expressions
> made up of symbols that have values?  An artificial example:
> a = 1
> Hold[{a,b,c}]
> How do I reverse the list inside Hold?  I could map Hold to each
> element, reverse the list, hold the list again, and remove Hold from
> individual elements to get Hold[{c,b,a}], but this is very 
> inconvenient.
> Szabolcs

There is of course the built in function ValueQ which essentially 
does what you are askign for:

  abc := Print["side effect"]

abc =.

Of course the difference here is that the argument of VlaueQ is an 
expression and not the string that is the name of the expression. 
However, you can make it work with strings:

SetAttributes[f, HoldAll]
f[x_String] := ValueQ @@ ToExpression[x, InputForm, Hold]


abc := Print["side effect"]

abc =.

Andrzej Kozlowski

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