# Why do certain fractional values in TriangleWave not evaluate?

While answering another question I discovered that TriangleWave does not automatically evaluate when given certain fractional values, specifically fractions with a denominator of 20:

TriangleWave[ Range[8] / 20 ]

{TriangleWave[1/20], 2/5, TriangleWave[3/20], 4/5, 1, 4/5, TriangleWave[7/20], 2/5}


These are reduced by Simplify:

TriangleWave[ Range[8] / 20 ] // Simplify

{1/5, 2/5, 3/5, 4/5, 1, 4/5, 3/5, 2/5}


This appears to be the only denominator under 10,000 that does not automatically evaluate:

Cases[TriangleWave[1/Range[1*^5]], _TriangleWave]

{TriangleWave[1/20]}


Is there a reason to believe that this behavior is anything other than a bug in TriangleWave?

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It only seems to evaluate when (2 ArcSin[Sin[2 Pi t]])/Pi is an explicit NumberQ – Rojo Jan 9 '14 at 3:27
Interesting question - I've wondered sometimes how MM decides (and why) to not simplify. E.G., 4/Pi (ArcSin[Sin[2/20 Pi]]) results in a trig form, while 4/Pi (ArcSin[Sin[3/20 Pi]]) simplifies, yet both are rationals... – ciao Jan 9 '14 at 4:00
@rasher I have raised a question about that here. – Mr.Wizard Jan 9 '14 at 9:11

Rojo's comment is spot on. If you look at the implementation of TriangleWave, you'll find something like this:

TriangleWave[t_?NumberQ] := With[{r = 2 ArcSin[Sin[2 π t]]/π}, r /; NumberQ[r]] /; Im[t] == 0


Note the use of NumberQ in the definition, which only checks if the argument is explicitly a number. For certain values of your input, ArcSin[Sin[2 π t]]/π is False for NumberQ:

{#, NumberQ@#}& /@ (ArcSin[Sin[2 π Range[8]/20]]/π) // TableForm


They should've used NumericQ instead of NumberQ.

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How do you find the implementation? – s0rce Jan 9 '14 at 4:12
@s0rce You can clear the attributes and look at the definitions. – R. M. Jan 9 '14 at 4:13
@s0rce Something like this peep[s_] := Module[{at}, at = Attributes[s]; ClearAttributes[s, at]; Print@Definition@s; SetAttributes[s, at]; ]; peep[TriangleWave] – Dr. belisarius Jan 9 '14 at 5:34
Thanks for the exploration. It sounds like you agree that this is a bug; is that correct? – Mr.Wizard Jan 9 '14 at 8:48
@Mr.Wizard Yes, I agree that it is a bug. – R. M. Jan 9 '14 at 14:49