I have the following expression

-3 I Ez Re[Ex] + 3 I Ex Re[Ez]

And I wish to write this in the form -3 Re[I Ez Conjugate[Ex]]. So I have made the rule

f_ I x_ Re[y_] - f_ I y_ Re[x_] -> f Real[I x Conjugate[y]]

But my expression does not seem to match that expression. What is wrong?


1 Answer 1


Pattern matching with complex numbers is notoriously difficult because Complex numbers are atomic yet have non-trivial FullForm.

{AtomQ[-3 I], FullForm[-3 I]}

Examining the FullForm of your expression, perhaps you want the following.

rule = a_Complex*x_*Re[y_] + b_Complex*y_*Re[x_] :>
  Abs[a]*Re[I x Conjugate[y]] /; a == -b;
-3 I Ez Re[Ex] + 3 I Ex Re[Ez] /. rule
-3 Im[Ex Conjugate[Ez]]
  • $\begingroup$ @Mr.Wizard What is the correct way to add textual Mathematica output, as you have done in your edit? $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 12:12
  • $\begingroup$ I don't know about "correct" but I am putting the output in quote blocks (which just means it starts with > Sometimes I think it looks better to combine code and quote types, which means starting each line with > followed by five spaces. I hoped you wouldn't mind my edit; I guess you don't. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ You can see the raw text of the message at any time by starting to edit it. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 12:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Mr.Wizard I was hoping someone would edit it so I could see formatted output. I see that R.M. has just added a further edit. I really don't think that either of these actually quite right. The standard quote block really looks more like a PrintUsage cell in Mathematica. Perhaps, this is discussion for Meta. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 12:54
  • $\begingroup$ Mark, it's already there. I am interested to know what you think looks best. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 13:01

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