I've been having an issue with functions which are supposed to receive as input a list of tuples. My troubles are two-fold:

  1. The function doesn't properly identify the pattern test I laid out in the definition of the inputs.
  2. The pattern matching itself is not ideal for a list of (same length) tuples and I couldn't find a more suitable pattern to match for.

My issue was originally in a very convoluted function, but I managed to replicate it in a simpler form.

g[x_, {a_, b_}] := a x^b (*generic function - actual definition of G is irrelevant other than the input structure*)
SetAttributes[myfun, HoldFirst]
myfun[f_[args__, pars:{__}], x_ : {{__} ..}] := f[Sequence @@ #, pars] & /@ x

First I check to see if my pattern matches what I want it to do (more or less as it still doesn't properly identify tuples of different lengths).

In[58]:= MatchQ[Tuples[Range@10,1],{{__}..}]

Out[58]= True

Out[59]= False

Out[60]= False

Note that a simple Range doesn't trigger the pattern match and neither does a generic symbol x (The symbol returns a weird output which I just noticed after posting this question - the function is not applied and yet the symbol is returned). Despite this:

In[68]:= myfun[g[x, {a, b}], Range[2, 4]] (*Regular range*)
myfun[g[x, {a, b}],Tuples[ Range[2, 4],1]] (*Properly formatted tuples*)
myfun[g[x,{a,b}],x] (*Symbol (!) - still works*)

Out[68]= {2^b a,3^b a,4^b a}

Out[69]= {2^b a,3^b a,4^b a}

Out[70]= x

My only conclusion is that for some reason the function does not evaluate the condition I set. Were I a betting man, my money is likely on problematic syntax. Also, if there is a better way to match a list of tuples I would appreciate the insight.

Help is greatly appreciated!

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ If you want to match a list of lists that are all the same length, why not just use x_List?MatrixQ? $\endgroup$ Dec 29, 2020 at 12:49
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your reply, My understanding of pattern matching syntax in pure function input is a little lacking and not well formed. Is there a good reference for it? I haven't found much by way of the documentation. $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Dec 29, 2020 at 14:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'd recommend starting here. The ? syntax (PatternTest) is explained a little further down. $\endgroup$ Dec 29, 2020 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ Your suggestion was very helpful! Thank you for the reference as well, I will make sure to read further into this subject. $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Dec 30, 2020 at 0:26

1 Answer 1


I figured out one of my issues on my own and figured I would update this question in case others happen upon it.

I had a syntactic error in the definition of my function.

Instead of

myfun[f_[args__, pars:{__}], x_ : {{__} ..}]

I should have written

myfun[f_[args__, pars:{__}], x : {{__} ..}]

Note the underscore near the x input. I still don't have a better way to identify tuples.

  • $\begingroup$ So does x : {{_, _}..} do what you want better? $\endgroup$ May 23 at 16:09

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