Why do

2 CenterDot[x,y]
- CenterDot[x,y]

produce output that looks like $2 \, x\cdot y$ for the former but $-(x\cdot y)$ with parentheses for the latter?

Both have FullForm of the form Times[n,Centerdot[x,y]], and normally Times[n,x] does not produce any parentheses when $n$ happens to be $-1$. The parentheses can be suppressed by writing PrecedenceForm[CenterDot[x, y], 490], yet not with PrecedenceForm[CenterDot[x, y], 489]; I do not quite understand why this is the case as Precendence[Times]=400. and Precendence[CenterDot]=410. are both rather lower.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ feel free to make the title and tags more precise $\endgroup$ Aug 17, 2018 at 13:26

1 Answer 1


The problem is that unary minus has higher precedence than CenterDot:




Without the parentheses, -x \[CenterDot] y would be parsed as CenterDot[-x, y]:

FullForm[- x \[CenterDot] y]


So, the parentheses are needed so that the output is equivalent to the input.


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