I would like to use the algebraic properties of Conjugate to expand it term by term to make Conjugate[x+y*z] into Conjugate[x]+Conjugate[y]Conjugate[z].

Similarly, how would one make Conjugate[x+y/z] into Conjugate[x]+Conjugate[y]/Conjugate[z]?

I know Distribute or Thread can make Conjugate[x+y*z] into Conjugate[x]+Conjugate[y z] but I need the multiplication to be expanded too.

Hope somebody can help me.

EDIT: None of the answers below seems to really work for me. For example, if I define a matrix Mat = {{(x + y) z, 0}, {0, (x + y) z}}and I take the 11-part

(Part[Mat, 1, 
   1])*(-z Conjugate[[Part[Mat, 1, 1] /. z -> -1/Conjugate[z]]] ) // foo  

it always gives -(x + y) z^2 Conjugate[[-((x + y)/Conjugate[z])]] . But what I want is something like (x+y)z(Conjugate[x]+Conjugate[y]). Same is true if I use // FunctionExpand or the modified conj.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Seems like FunctionExpand should be right up your alley here... $\endgroup$
    – ciao
    Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 6:55
  • $\begingroup$ Wrong syntax in edit; you're indexing into Conjugate which is not a list or a normal expression ... would single parentheses be right there? $\endgroup$
    – BoLe
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 11:55
  • $\begingroup$ You can do Mat[[1,1]] instead of Part ... but you must have Conjugate[...]. $\endgroup$
    – BoLe
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 11:57

3 Answers 3


Maybe not the neatest but should fit your needs:

foo = # //. (c : Conjugate)[p : (_Plus | _Times)] :> c /@ p &

Conjugate[x + y*z] // foo
Conjugate[x] + Conjugate[y] Conjugate[z]
Conjugate[x + y/z] // foo
Conjugate[x] + Conjugate[y] / Conjugate[z]
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I used to write patterns like Plus[__], and Times[__], but so I had to wrap them with HoldPattern; _Plus, and _Times, of course ... $\endgroup$
    – BoLe
    Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 11:56
Conjugate[x + y*z] // FunctionExpand
Conjugate[x + y/z] // FunctionExpand

Conjugate[x] + Conjugate[y] Conjugate[z]

Conjugate[x] + Conjugate[y]/Conjugate[z]


Answer from Kuba has the advantage of locality. However, maybe you want Conjugate to behave in this way on its own. Division is taken care (see FullForm[y/z]).

x : Conjugate[_Plus] := Thread[Unevaluated[x], Plus]    
x : Conjugate[_Times] := Thread[Unevaluated[x], Times]    

Conjugate /@ {x + y z, x + y/z}
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm I thought this might have worked for my matrix question since yours should globally change this behavior but it doesn't seem to. Any idea why? $\endgroup$
    – Camilo
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 1:07

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