# Using Element[]

Can the Element[] function only be used for the domains given in the documentation? I am trying to use it to determine if a value is contained in a previously defined list. Thanks!

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It only works for domains, yes. You might be interested in MemberQ[]... – J. M. May 28 '13 at 14:00
Thanks. That should do the trick – yankeefan11 May 28 '13 at 14:03
You should be able to answer your own question, now... – J. M. May 28 '13 at 14:04
There is an exception to J.M.'s answer: upvalues, although it would only be shorthand for MemberQ[]. – rcollyer May 28 '13 at 14:06
Difference is also that Element is a kind of assertion, you tell Mathematica that a given variable belongs to a given domain, whereas MemberQ is a test; you ask Mathematica whether a value is member of a list. – Sjoerd C. de Vries May 28 '13 at 20:26

There are as usual several ways. The most convenient one is probably MemberQ, as already pointed out in the comments.

MemberQ[{1, 2, 3, 4, 9}, 9]
(* True *)


If you have a complex structure and not only a flat list, then FreeQ can be of use. Note that you have to negate the result.

MemberQ[{1, 2, {3}, {{4, 9}}}, 9]
Not[FreeQ[{1, 2, {3}, {{4, 9}}}, 9]]
(* False *)
(* True *)


Finally, note that you can specify the level where MemberQ should look for the appearance of the element

MemberQ[{1, 2, {3}, {{4, 9}}}, 9, Infinity]
(* True *)

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I have not tested it, but this dirty hack might be pretty fast IF you have to assess membership in a list of symbolic values with no zeros.

symMemberQ[x_, mylist_] := SameQ[Times @@ Flatten[mylist /. x -> 0], 0]


Adding Flatten wil take care of nested list.

symMemberQ[e, {a, {b, g}, {d, {e, f}}}]

   True

symMemberQ[w, {a, {b, g}, {d, {e, f}}}]

   False


(It's a dirty hack, so beware: it might bite you).

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