In Mathematica, often an expression involving matrices will encounter dimension mismatch errors, like we are multiplying a 3x2 matrix to a 3x4 matrix. Below we define a new symbol Dim, which can be passed through your algorithm as a fake parameter to detect errors.

Dim /: Dot[Dim[{x_, y_}], z_] /;
   MatrixQ[z] :=
  (checkEq[y, Dimensions[z][[1]]];
   Dim[{x, Dimensions[z][[2]]}]);

This method can handle most matrix operations, but failed on Table, which seems quite special. In fact, I failed to pattern match with Table by writing:

Dim /: Times[Dim[{x_, y_}], Table[z_]] := Dim[x, y];(*incorrect, just for syntax*)
Dim /: Times[Table[z_], Dim[{x_, y_}]] := Dim[x, y];

The expected result should be:

Dim[{3, 2}] Table[Sin[i + j], {i, 3}, {j, 2}] == Dim[{3, 2}]

But now Dim is multiplied over every element of table and it returns:

{{Dim[{3, 2}] Sin[2], Dim[{3, 2}] Sin[3]}, {Dim[{3, 2}] Sin[3], Dim[{3, 2}] Sin[4]}, {Dim[{3, 2}] Sin[4], Dim[{3, 2}] Sin[5]}} == Dim[{3, 2}]

Full code:

checkEq =
  Function[{x, y},
   If[x != y, Print[ToString[x] <> "!=" <> ToString[y]]; Abort[]]];
Dim /: Dimensions[Dim[x_]] := x;
Dim /: MatrixQ[Dim[_]] := True;
Dim /: Dot[Dim[{x_, y_}], z_] /;
   MatrixQ[z] :=
  (checkEq[y, Dimensions[z][[1]]];
   Dim[{x, Dimensions[z][[2]]}]);
Dim /: Dot[z_, Dim[{x_, y_}]] /;
   MatrixQ[z] :=
  (checkEq[Dimensions[z][[2]], x];
   Dim[{Dimensions[z][[1]], y}]);
Dim /: Times[z_, Dim[{x_, y_}]] /;
   MatrixQ[z] :=
  (checkEq[Dimensions[z], {x, y}]; Dim[{x, y}]);
Dim /: Times[Dim[{x_, y_}], z_] /;
   MatrixQ[z] :=
  (checkEq[Dimensions[z], {x, y}]; Dim[{x, y}]);
Dim /: Plus[z_, Dim[{x_, y_}]] /;
   MatrixQ[z] :=
  (checkEq[Dimensions[z], {x, y}]; Dim[{x, y}]);
Dim /: Times[x_, Dim[{y_, z_}]] /; NumberQ[x] := Dim[{y, z}];

(*Below are tests that should return true.*)
MatrixQ[Dim[{2, 3}]]
Dimensions@Dim[{1, 2}] == {1, 2}
Dim[{3, 2}].Dim[{2, 4}] == Dim[{3, 4}]
Dim[{3, 2}].RandomReal[1, {2, 4}] == Dim[{3, 4}]
RandomReal[1, {2, 4}].Dim[{4, 3}] == Dim[{2, 3}]
Dim[{3, 2}] Dim[{3, 2}] == Dim[{3, 2}]
2 Dim[{3, 2}] == Dim[{3, 2}]
Dim[{3, 2}] - Dim[{3, 2}] == Dim[{3, 2}]

(*Below are tests that should raise errors.*)
Dim[{3, 2}] - Dim[{2, 4}]
Dim[{3, 2}] Dim[{2, 4}]
Dim[{5, 3}].Dim[{2, 4}]
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure I understand what underlying problem you're trying to solve here, let alone why this particular approach is being used... That said, Table[z_] expressions in code seem to be where your problem is... If you're trying to match a 'list of lists' that can be done; if you're trying to match an expression with the Head 'Table', that too can be done, although evaluation control will probably be needed. Advice: do some prototyping with MatchQ. This will force you to make explicit what you're trying to match, and will enable you to identify what will work. $\endgroup$ Commented May 27, 2013 at 21:59

1 Answer 1


I believe you have an evaluation order problem. I suspect that you are unaware of the order of evaluation regarding UpValues definitions. Allow me to give a few illustrations.

I'll make a generic UpValue rule using UpSetDelayed:

_[___, up[1], ___] ^:= "one"

Arguments are evaluated before UpValues rules are triggered, unless the function has a Hold attribute such as HoldAll:

List[Print[1 + 1], up[1], Print[2 + 2]]




For this reason your Table is evaluated before your Dim rule is checked. Perhaps the most direct way around this is to use Unevaluated for every instance of Table. Using a simplified rule:

dim /: Times[dim[], _Table] := "Table found"

Times[dim[], Table[x[n], {n, 5}]] (* this doesn't match *)
{dim[] x[1], dim[] x[2], dim[] x[3], dim[] x[4], dim[] x[5]}
Times[dim[], Unevaluated @ Table[x[n], {n, 5}]] (* this does *)
"Table found"

Of course this isn't very convenient.

I must admit I don't understand how you are intending to use Dims and why you don't merely check the data with Dimensions. If you explain that perhaps I can suggest a different implementation.

  • $\begingroup$ +1, for taking the time to figure out something helpful to say. $\endgroup$
    – Michael E2
    Commented Jun 8, 2013 at 18:06

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