Ask Your Question

How to return a list from callable symbolic expression

asked 2013-08-17 06:51:14 -0500

Mark gravatar image

I was (wrongfully) expecting the return type of all of the following function calls to be the same, namely a list. Why does the callable symbolic expression (1) return a vector, and how to rewrite (1) such that it does return a list?

# (1)
sage: f(x) = [x,x]
# (2)
sage: g = lambda x: [x,x]
# (3)
sage: def h(x):
....:     return [x,x]

sage: type(f(x))
<class 'sage.modules.vector_symbolic_dense.Vector_symbolic_dense'>
sage: type(g(x))
<type 'list'>
sage: type(h(x))
<type 'list'>
edit retag flag offensive close merge delete

1 answer

Sort by » oldest newest most voted

answered 2013-08-17 07:32:49 -0500

Luca gravatar image

updated 2013-08-17 08:32:07 -0500

If you type

sage: f??

You will see that the method .__call__ (responsible for the behaviour of evaluating f) is the one-liner

return vector([e(*args, **kwargs) for e in self])

This has been designed so that symbolic functions can safely be used in symbolic expressions in a meaningful way. For example, you can combine f with another symbolic function using the vector product operator *:

sage: f(x) = [x,x]
sage: f
x |--> (x, x)
sage: f * f
x |--> 2*x^2

This would not work with ordinary python lists.

There is no way around it. If you really only need to return a list, then an ordinary python function (like (2) or (3)) is probably enough. Or you can convert the output of f to a list like so:

sage: list(f(x))
edit flag offensive delete link more


Can you provide me with an example of what you mean by 'unsafe' or 'not meaningful' if the callable symbolic expression would actually return what I have asked for, namely a list?

Mark gravatar imageMark ( 2013-08-17 07:54:52 -0500 )edit

Edited my answer to account for your comment.

Luca gravatar imageLuca ( 2013-08-17 08:34:10 -0500 )edit

(Maybe) that helps. Let me ask one for clarification. If I get you right, kind of your point is, that callable symbolic expression should allow for meaningful usage with symbolic operations like multiplication, addition a.s.o. But while a scalar product, as f*f may make sense (even though I wasn't even looking for that) the division f(x)/f(x) is also a symbolic operation, which does not make sense for me in case of vectors - although sage simply return f(x)/f(x) = 1 with my definition (1)

Mark gravatar imageMark ( 2013-08-17 09:19:34 -0500 )edit

This is due to the semantics of symbolic vectors in Sage, as it has been discussed in <>. I agree that this kind of inverse of multiplication by a scalar is somewhat surprising, and that it does not seem to be documented anywhere.

Luca gravatar imageLuca ( 2013-08-18 01:40:32 -0500 )edit

Your Answer

Please start posting anonymously - your entry will be published after you log in or create a new account.

Add Answer

Question Tools


Asked: 2013-08-17 06:51:14 -0500

Seen: 204 times

Last updated: Aug 17 '13