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Problem with the 'if' command

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg96578] Problem with the 'if' command
  • From: mathandpi <mathandpi at yahoo.com>
  • Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 16:39:19 -0500 (EST)

Hi everyone,
I'm a new Mathematica user so I may be missing something fairly obvious, but I'm having trouble with the 'if' command.
I'm writing a function that is supposed to return the median of a list (I know such a function already exists, but I need to create one myself).

What I have is:

newMedian[list_] := 
 If[Length[list]/2 == 0, 
  1/2*(list[[(Length[list]/2) + 1]] + list[[(Length[list])/2]])
  , list[[(Length[list] + 1)/2]]]

if the list has an off number of members (condition is false), it evaluates as expected.  If it's even, however,

newMedian[{1, 2, 3, 4}] returns:
Part::pspec: Part specification 5/2 is neither an integer nor a list of integers.

BUT

list={1,2,3,4};

1/2*(list[[(Length[list]/2) + 1]] + list[[(Length[list])/2]])
returns 5/2, as expected so that code is right.

It seems likes its actually evaluating the false part of the code (trying to find the 5/2'ith element in a list), even though the condition is true.

What's going on here?

Thanks


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