[GiNaC-list] Substitution troubles

Alexei Sheplyakov varg at metalica.kh.ua
Wed Feb 25 08:45:03 CET 2009


On Tue, Feb 24, 2009 at 10:07:12AM -0500, Jeremy Jay wrote:
> It's not "intuitive" because I can see a plain single "1" when i print
> the poly, and I can call subs(1==q) on the poly with no errors, but 
> when I print the poly again it is unchanged.

It's never going to be "what you see is what you get" (see the example in
M.........a I've given in a previous mail). 

> If I were to print your first example as written, I would not see a "4"
> in the output and I would not expect anything to be substituted. If I
> wanted to make sure I got the 4, I would have to call expand or whatever
> appropriately, before the substitution.
> In the second example I would expect it to come out to (x^2+A*x+A). I
> see 4s and I'm substituting As in their place. If I don't want the 4x
> changed I'll have to do some extra work myself, but I don't expect GiNaC
> to differentiate between the 4s I see.
> I think any of these cases are very "intuitive" for any programmer with
> any experience with any pattern matching.

Even for strings there are a number of different matching rules (cf. `greedy
matching' versus `non-greedy matching'). Obviously, there are much more
different ways to define matching rules for mathematical expressions.
And for every such definition there are people who like it (for a good
reason) and those who hate it (for a good reason, too!).
> A substitution is just that, a
> substitution, and it is not "well-defined" mathematically and I don't
> really see any reason for it to be as rigorous as you imply.

Mathematical definitions help to avoid confusion, because typically such
definitions avoid highly subjective notions (such as `intuitive'). That said,
I don't know any formal definition of pattern matching (for mathematical
expressions). All mathematical software I know of operates on internal
representation. At best, that representation and matching rules are
documented, but that's it.

> If someone wants to do silly things like replace 4s with As, let him!

No problem. The code below does something like that. However, it replaces
_all_ '4s with As'.

#include <ginac/ginac.h>
#include <iostream>
using namespace std;
using namespace GiNaC;

struct subs_silly : public map_function
	ex patt;
	ex repl;

	ex operator()(const ex& e)
		if (is_a<add>(e) || is_a<mul>(e))
			return e.map(*this);
		if (is_a<power>(e)) {
			return power(e.op(0).map(*this),
		if (e.is_equal(patt))
			return repl;
			return e;

int main(int argc, char** argv)
	symbol x("x"), y("y"), q("q");
	ex e = y*pow(x, 2) + 1;
	subs_silly se;
	se.patt = ex(1);
	se.repl = q;
	cout << e << " => ";
	e = se(e);
	cout << e << endl; // prints: 1+x^2*y => q+x^2*y
	return 0;

> Alexei made his point, yes, but I don't see how it is "correct." He said
> that the semantics of a simple substitution rely upon the internal
> representation of the polynomial -- although there is no documentation
> on this point anywhere on the website.

That's not quite true. The internal documentation is somewhat documented in
the tutorial (Appendix A.2, titled `Internal representation of products and
sums'). Also, GiNaC provides the `tree' printing context, which outputs
the internal representation of expression:

#include <ginac/ginac.h>
#include <iostream>
using namespace std;
using namespace GiNaC;

int main(int argc, char** argv)
	symbol x("x"), y("y");
	ex e = y*pow(x, 2) + 1;
	cout << "Internal representation of the expression \"" <<
		e << "\" is: " << endl;

	cout << tree << e << endl << dflt;
	return 0;

Best regards,

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