I need to store a rather big number of variables and I tried to do that by storing each variable as Z[n] with varying n. I guess this was not my best idea. The first problem I encountered is when I tried to check whether Z[n] is set. As you can see at the picture if I do this inside a loop it is always true and outside a loop it is the correct value. Why is this happening? I have mathematica

(I had no idea how should I have tagged the question. Feel free to change them.)


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    $\begingroup$ Nice question, but please provide copyable code next time. Many people tend to skip questions that require them to type the code themselves. $\endgroup$ Dec 16, 2012 at 14:21
  • $\begingroup$ Somewhat related question $\endgroup$ Dec 16, 2012 at 19:07
  • $\begingroup$ Sjoerd you are absolutely right, I didn't think of that, I'll keep it in mind. Leonid thank you for the link. $\endgroup$
    – tst
    Dec 16, 2012 at 23:40
  • $\begingroup$ Have you thought about creating your variables with z=Table[Unique[],{numVariables}] then you can have x[[1]],z[[2]],... or Table[Unique["z"],{numVariables}] to give z1,z2,z3,.... Though the exact numbering of the latter depends upon the existence of any already defined zs. $\endgroup$ Dec 16, 2012 at 23:46
  • $\begingroup$ It's not very convenient. I actually have a series $\sum_{n=1}^\infty z_n t^{-n}$ so the numbering and the order is very important for me. I don't really like the way I store the data, but works fairly well. $\endgroup$
    – tst
    Dec 17, 2012 at 11:03

1 Answer 1


ValueQ[Z[sindex]] is equivalent to !Hold[Evaluate[Z[sindex]]]===Hold[Z[sindex]] which evaluates to !(Hold[Z[1]]===Hold[Z[sindex]]). Since lhs and rhs of the latter are not literally the same the result combined with Not is True.

This has nothing to do with being inside the loop or not. If you try ValueQ[Z[sindex]] outside the loop you get the same result. Note that you didn't test that, but instead assumed that ValueQ[Z[1]] would be equivalent. It's the presence of the '1' that makes the difference here.

The ValueQ documentation page provides a warning about this pitfall in the "Possible Issues" section:

ValueQ returns True if any evaluation takes place

A workaround in this case would be the use of With to inject the actual value of sindex in the expression to be tested.

With[{sindex = sindex}, ValueQ[Z[sindex]]]


  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much, I wasted quite a few frustrating hour with this and yet I failed to check what ValueQ[Z[sindex]] evaluates to. $\endgroup$
    – tst
    Dec 16, 2012 at 23:42

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