I asked a similar question there: Define function of a list from a function of its elements (SetDelayed). This one is different because I'd like to use Set instead of SetDelayed, and it makes a big difference.

Let's say I have a long expression which depends on x[1], x[2], ..., for example here simply 3x[1]+x[5]. I want to define a function based on this expression, but of course I don't want to rewrite it manually as:

 f[{x1_,x2_,x3_,x4_,x5_}] = 3x1 + x5

Just to explain better, I'd looking for something like the incorrect

 expr = 3x[1] + x[5]
 f[Array[x_]] = expr

so that f[{a,b,c,d,e}] would return 3a + e.


2 Answers 2


With Indexed:

expr = 3 x[1] + x[5];

f[x_List] = expr /. x[i_] :> Indexed[x, i];

f[{a, b, c, d, e}]
3 a + e

Or Part:

f2[x_List] = expr /. x[i_] :> Quiet[ x[[i]] ];

f2[{a, b, c, d, e}]
3 a + e
  • $\begingroup$ @anderstood Since you want that form there is no point to the Block construct I presented first; I therefore removed the extraneous parts of my answer. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Mr.Wizard Why RuleDelayed instead of just Rule? $\endgroup$
    – Alan
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 19:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Alan :> will protect against the case where i is assigned a value; -> will not. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 0:02

Just try this:

f[x_List]:= 3 x[[1]] + x[[5]]
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ You are using SetDelayed instead of Set, and you are not using expr directly (I don't want to retype expr which I supposed to be complicated). $\endgroup$
    – anderstood
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 17:10

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