# Define a distributive function?

Here is a related question, but not quite what I'm after.

I would like to define a function f[x_] that has the distributive attribute, such that:

f[a+b+c]


f[a]+f[b]+f[c]

Of course I could do

f[Plus[x_,y___]]:=f[x]+f[Plus[y]]


but I suspect that this would be much slower than an actual Attribute. Unfortunately, I cannot find Distributive in the list of allowed attributes.

How should one define such a property to make sure that it performs as efficiently as possible?

• Do you know about Distribute? e.g. Distribute[f[a + b + c]] Feb 14, 2018 at 22:59
• @MikeHoneychurch wow, thank you! Good to know! Feb 14, 2018 at 23:31

f[x__Plus] := Plus @@ (f /@ (List @@ x))


This is also about the same speed as:

f[x__Plus] := Map[f, x]


Which is also about the same speed as:

f[x__Plus] := Distribute[Unevaluated[f[x]]]


You can test the efficiency of this like so:

var = Sum[a[i], {i, 1, 100000}];
AbsoluteTiming[f[var];]


I am reasonably sure there isn't an attribute based solution, and I believe that most of the built-in functions that aren't coded in C rely on pattern matching to manage the distributive property. The trick here is to avoid relying on pattern matching more often than necessary: this splits out every summand in a single replacement.