In Mathematica, is it possible to define a graphic variable/function? Something like $$\text{"A drawing of a pentagon''}[x\_]:=ax^5+bx^4?$$

  • $\begingroup$ What exactly are you expecting the output to be here? What do you mean that the graphic should be a function of x? And what does "drawing of a pentagon" have to do with the function that you defined there? We need more details, with an explanation of your desired output, please. $\endgroup$
    – march
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ @march, just an ordinary function f[x_]:=ax^5+bx^4, with f replaced by the picture of a pentagon. $\endgroup$
    – Jia Yiyang
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 19:02
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, that's not what I expected. Why would you want to do something like this? $\endgroup$
    – march
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ @march, because I have a graph theory problem which needs me to assign different functions to different graphs, and I can't find a systematic and neat way of naming all the graphs. What I asked is nothing vital to my purpose, it's just that it would be nice book keeping. $\endgroup$
    – Jia Yiyang
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 19:07

2 Answers 2


You may use the Notation, Symbolize, and InfixNotation tutorial to define your own notation. This method has the added bonus of not unprotecting built-in symbols.

Below is a screenshot of the notebook followed by the code. The screenshot is added because the InputForm of the templates from the Notation` package are not very easy to read.

Mathematica graphics

Graphics[Polygon@CirclePoints@5, ImageSize -> 30]


Paste the following to a new cell and convert the cell to StandardForm from the Cell | Convert To menu. This is the template from the Notation package palette that is not easy to read in input form.

         {{Sqrt[5/8 - Sqrt[5]/8], (-1 - Sqrt[5])/4}, 
          {Sqrt[5/8 + Sqrt[5]/8], (-1 + Sqrt[5])/4}, {0, 1}, 
          {-Sqrt[5/8 + Sqrt[5]/8], (-1 + Sqrt[5])/4}, 
          {-Sqrt[5/8 - Sqrt[5]/8], (-1 - Sqrt[5])/4}}, 
         {{0.5877852522924731, -0.8090169943749475}, 
          {0.9510565162951535, 0.30901699437494745}, {0, 1}, 
          {-0.9510565162951535, 0.30901699437494745}, 
          {-0.5877852522924731, -0.8090169943749475}}]], 
       ImageSize -> 30], "[", "x_", "]"}]] \[DoubleLongLeftRightArrow] 
   ParsedBoxWrapper[RowBox[{"poly", "[", "x_", "]"}]]]

In fact the remainder of the code will be just as unwieldy to read as it requires graphics in InputForm so I am going to skip adding it.

Basically you just paste the polygon into an input cell and use it as a symbol of a function with one parameter.

<pasted graphic>[value]

By assigning a definition to poly the graphic symbol will resolve to that function and evaluate.

poly[x_] := a x^5 + b x^4

Further graphic symbols can be created in the same manner by creating a new notation with the templates from the notation palette. Of course, each graphic will need its own function to map to.

Hope this helps.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. What's the use of Needs["Notation`"]? $\endgroup$
    – Jia Yiyang
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 2:35
  • $\begingroup$ @JiaYiyang It loads the Notation` package tat comes with Mathematica. $\endgroup$
    – Edmund
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 10:52

What I think you want is indeed possible since Mathematica 6. We need to unprotect Graphics to allow the rule to be attached, but then this works:

enter image description here

I copied and pasted the output of the first line into the definition on the third line, and the application on the fourth line.


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