Here is an simple replacement:

 Log[x[k]] /. Log[a_] -> a*xbar

I get the answer in my mind:

xbar x[k]

Similarly, I use another replacement:


Should the answer be x[k]*xbar ? However, the replacement is disappointing:

enter image description here

I remain puzzled after much pondering. It seems the function Product at it also is deceptive.

What is the particularity of Sum/Product in replacement? Why is that?

  • $\begingroup$ What do you expect after applying the rule? Sum[x[k] xbar,{k,1,n}]? $\endgroup$ Feb 17 at 14:39

1 Answer 1


If a function doesn't own Hold* attribute, it'll evaluate its arguments from left to right. ReplaceAll (/.) and Rule (/.) don't own Hold* attribute. In other words, Sum[a_, {k, 1, n}] evaluates before the replacement happens. There's no explicit k in a_, so Sum thinks it's a constant and evaluates to n a_. This can be checked with Trace:

Sum[x[k], {k, 1, n}] /. Sum[a_, {k, 1, n}] -> a xbar // Trace

enter image description here

Then how to fix? Just stop summing with HoldPattern:

Sum[x[k], {k, 1, n}] /. HoldPattern@Sum[a_, {k, 1, n}] -> a xbar


Sum[x[k], {k, 1, n}] /. (h : Sum)[a_, {k, 1, n}] -> a xbar


Sum[x[k], {k, 1, n}] /. Verbatim[Sum][a_, {k, 1, n}] -> a xbar
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Or make the index a pattern: Sum[x[k], {k, 1, n}] /. Sum[a_, {k_, 1, n}] :> a*xbar $\endgroup$
    – Bob Hanlon
    Feb 17 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ @bob Interesting, I didn't know summing will stop evaluation in this case. (Even Sum[a_, {h : k, 1, n}] evaluates to n a_! ) $\endgroup$
    – xzczd
    Feb 17 at 15:08
  • $\begingroup$ I am only guessing but I suspect that in the process of localizing the index variable, internally k doesn't look like k. Using a pattern would cause a match to whatever its representation. $\endgroup$
    – Bob Hanlon
    Feb 17 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. I've learned Attrbute of Hold*, useful Trace. $\endgroup$
    – jerry
    Feb 17 at 15:15
  • $\begingroup$ @BobHanlon I wonder how you find it, accidentally. $\endgroup$
    – jerry
    Feb 17 at 15:17

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