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I want to understand the following effect better (In Mathematica 9) .. Or, maybe, is it a bug?

Running the following line

FullForm[Subscript[α,β_]]

gives as output,

(*Output*)
Subscript[\[Alpha], Pattern[\[Beta], Blank[]]]

But then, when I try to edit the above output, I get some unexpected stuff:

enter image description here

There is some strange spacing at the end, and the front end disagrees with the syntax (as evidenced by the red carat).

How do I understand what's going here?

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1 Answer

up vote 8 down vote accepted

My guess is that since you asked for the full form, Mathematica somehow had to display α as \[Alpha] without it automatically turning into α. This is done by manipulating the underlying box forms, which you can see by inspecting the cell contents:

This modified box structure must be throwing the highlighter off. However, the kernel knows how to evaluate it and gives the right expression for the line with the incorrect highlighting.

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Probably the front end guys didn't care if the hightlighting worked fine for input cells with the nondefault option ShowSpecialCharacters->False –  Rojo Nov 1 '13 at 3:13
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