Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mathematica Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of Mathematica. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is there a function to show algebraic numbers in Mathematica more conveniently? I am looking for something similar to MatrixForm for matrices.

For example, I would like to view AlgebraicNumber[1/2 (1 + Sqrt[5]), {-3, 2}] as -3 + 2*q, where q is the generator of the number field my algebraic number comes from, i. e. 1/2 (1 + Sqrt[5]) in this case.

I searched the documentation concerning algebraic numbers with no success. Something along the lines of Extract[AlgebraicNumber[...], {2}].{1, x} works, but it requires tweaking for different fields.

share|improve this question
Have you heard about ToRadicals ? –  Artes Dec 11 '13 at 17:29
I have not, thank you! It looks promising, but it also reduces the root the number field is based on. –  BoZenKhaa Dec 11 '13 at 17:38
Is this useful? AlgebraicNumber[1/2 (1 + Sqrt[5]), {-3, 2}] //. 1/2 (1 + Sqrt[5]) -> q –  bill s Dec 11 '13 at 17:59
Yes, thanks, that does the job exactly! I take it there is probably no built in function for this? I guess not as this is very simple and neat solution already.. –  BoZenKhaa Dec 11 '13 at 18:05

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Are you perhaps looking for AlgebraicNumberPolynomial?

AlgebraicNumberPolynomial[AlgebraicNumber[1/2 (1 + Sqrt[5]), {-3, 2}], HoldForm[q]]
-3 + 2 q

The question states: "... show algebraic numbers" and "I would like to view ..." If you would like to display the AlgebraicNumber expression this way but retain its full syntax you can use a formatting function. You typically have several choices including Format, MakeBoxes, and $PrePrint. MakeBoxes is usually preferred for robustness and performance. For example:

MakeBoxes[p : AlgebraicNumber[_, {__}], fmt_] :=
  ToBoxes[Interpretation[AlgebraicNumberPolynomial[p, HoldForm @ q], p], fmt]


AlgebraicNumber[1/2 (1 + Sqrt[5]), {-3, 2}]
-3 + 2 q
% // InputForm
AlgebraicNumber[(1 + Sqrt[5])/2, {-3, 2}]
share|improve this answer
Seems like you've found the way to go (+1) but why do you need to play with HoldForm in AlgebraicNumberPolynomial, it seems to be superfluous. –  Artes Dec 11 '13 at 19:12
Oh yes, this is awesome. Along the lines of A. C. Clarke, it looks like magic to me. Thank you a lot. –  BoZenKhaa Dec 11 '13 at 19:18
@Artes In the case that q has a value assigned? One could also use \[FormalQ]. –  Mr.Wizard Dec 11 '13 at 19:20
@BoZenKhaa Glad I could help. :-) –  Mr.Wizard Dec 11 '13 at 19:20

This is a reasonable application of Replace:

AlgebraicNumber[1/2 (1 + Sqrt[5]), {-3, 2}] /. {1/2 (1 + Sqrt[5]) -> q}
-3 + 2 q

The same replacement rule works for sums and products of AlgebraicNumbers.

As BoZenKhaa points out, if you don't know the exact form of the base, you can extract it and then do the replacement.

b = AlgebraicNumber[1/2 (1 + Sqrt[5]), {-3, 2}];
b /. Extract[b, {1}] -> q
-3 + 2 q
share|improve this answer
I am using algebraic number b as the base of the number field, and this slight change works for me: AlgebraicNumber[..] //. Extract[b, {1}] -> x –  BoZenKhaa Dec 11 '13 at 18:17
@BoZenKhaa I guess you shouldn't play with Replace since it doesn't work when AlgebraicNumber yields the Root objects. –  Artes Dec 11 '13 at 18:58
That is a good point, however it works with the Extract. I will not be using the results for any computations, just presentation, so I feel safe :-) –  BoZenKhaa Dec 11 '13 at 19:11

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.