With respect to code readability I like the possibility to use keyword (named) arguments.

I would like to have this under Mathematica, but AFAIK there is no native support for that.

By example, to define an inverse gamma distribution, I come with this approach:

  With[{a=(m^2+2v)/v,b=m (m^2+v)/v},InverseGammaDistribution[a,b]];



Mean[dist]             (* 1 *)
Variance[dist]         (* 4 *)

My question: do you see some drawbacks to this approach or do you have a better solution?


  • clearly some symbols have to be reserved and protected (here I use Mean, Variance etc... that are already defined).
  • this approach can interfere with Option, maybe it would be better to define something like foo[Mean=5] with "=" instead of ->


here is an example with "=" instead of ->


  With[{a=(m^2+2v)/v,b=m (m^2+v)/v},InverseGammaDistribution[a,b]];



Mean[dist]             (* 1 *)
Variance[dist]         (* 4 *)

However I am even less sure that it has no deleterious side effect...?

  • $\begingroup$ "[...] it is usually possible to provide the values in any arbitrary order, [...]" - that's not the case here, right? You could use KeyValuePattern[{Mean -> m_, ...}] instead but I find KeyValuePattern quite code-obscuring. The call would have to have a single argument as well. $\endgroup$
    – Kuba
    Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 11:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Kuba thank you for the comment, I will try. With "named" arguments I can accomodate any solution (with or without order restriction), I just want the approach to have no deleterious side effect and improve code readability (at least on the caller side). $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 11:38
  • $\begingroup$ Could use strings for the names in the rule-based version, e.g. createInverseGamma["Mean"->m_,"Variance"->v_]:=... Not sure if this will achieve what you want though. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielLichtblau A priori I do not want to use strings as you cannot use pattern matching anymore. By example it is impossible to distinguish foo["Variance"->_] versus foo["Mean"->_] by example (AFAIK). $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ I don't really see how this is different from just making Mean and Variance options of the function, to be honest. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 14:17

1 Answer 1


I was recently inspired by ES6 object desctructuring and made something that fits your needs.

It is part of https://github.com/kubaPod/Meh and I consider it beta but I don't care about proper prerelease since I have zero feedback anyway :)

(* ResourceFunction["GitHubInstall"]["kubapod", "meh"] *)

<< Meh`

  "F" -> f_,
  "J" -> j_:1

{1, 2, 3, 10, 1}

{1, 2, 3, 100, 1}

foo[<|"b" -> 2.2, "a" -> 1, "F" -> 3|>]

which seems to support what you need because you can do:

createInverseGamma // es6Decorate

createInverseGamma[<|"Mean" -> m_, "Variance" -> v_|>] := With[
  {a = (m^2 + 2 v)/v, b = m (m^2 + v)/v}
, InverseGammaDistribution[a, b]

createInverseGamma[<|"Mean" -> m_, "StandardDeviation" -> std_|>] := 
  createInverseGamma[<|"Mean" -> m, "Variance" -> std^2|>];

dist = createInverseGamma[<|"Mean" -> 1, "StandardDeviation" -> 2|>]

Mean[dist]             (*1*)
Variance[dist]         (*4*)

So yes, not exactly the same syntax but this answer is a side effect.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you @Kuba, that looks very interesting. I will have a look. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 9:56

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