I have a function taking an array as argument and giving an output. However, sometimes my argument is {} (the empty array), then how can I get an output {} when my argument is {}? Actually, I want the output to be {} if there is anything wrong with the argument. How can I do this?

  • $\begingroup$ Can you post your code, please? Or otherwise describe what you mean by something being wrong with the argument? Thanks. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 18:55
  • $\begingroup$ f[x_List] := If[Length[x] == 0, {}, func] $\endgroup$
    – Bob Hanlon
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 21:06

2 Answers 2


Actually, I want the output to be {} if there is anything wrong with the argument.

For this I recommend one or more definitions with patterns that only match a valid argument, and a fall-through definition for anything else. For example if the argument should be a nonempty list of integers:

(* primary definition *)
func[arg : {__Integer}] := Mean[arg]

(* fall-through definition *)
_func := {}


func[{1, 2, 3}]
func[1, 2, 3]




Additional reading:

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It is the fist time I see _func := ..., don't act like it isn't awesome! $\endgroup$
    – Kuba
    Commented Oct 30, 2019 at 8:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Kuba Thank you, but I suspect you've seen it before and have forgotten. Likewise I seem to have forgotten who I learned it from. Nevertheless it's good I guess that this answer can remind people of this useful pattern construct. :-) $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 3:27

One way is to make some definitions

foo[arr_] := {}
foo[{}] := {} 
foo[arr_List] := "ok"

Mathematica graphics

Mathematica will automatically pick the correct definition to use.

  • $\begingroup$ I define my function as foo[points : {{?NumericQ, _?NumericQ} ..}]. It is an array like this {{1,2},{3,4},{5,6},...}. Then when I define foo[arr]:={}, my function foo produces null only. $\endgroup$
    – lol
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 19:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Why not just define foo[{}]={}? $\endgroup$
    – John Doty
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnDoty yes, thanks, that is shorter. I guess I was trying to be explicit. But will update to use the shorter syntax. $\endgroup$
    – Nasser
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ @lol Please update answer with MWE then. btw, you need to add '_' after the symbol name. So instead of foo[arr]:={} it should be foo[arr_]:={} may be that is why it did not work for you. $\endgroup$
    – Nasser
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 21:12

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