I'm new to Mathematica and I have an issue:

I'm trying to define a function that accepts as parameter another function with parameter X and then returns a function also with parameter X.


transform[x_[y_]] := {y, x[y]}

explicitFunction[x_] := Cos[π*x]/x


parametric[x_] := transform[explicitFunction[x]]


expectedResult[x_] := {x, Cos[π*x]/x};



  1. Cos[ab π]/ab
  2. transform[Cos[ab π]/ab]
  3. {ab, Cos[ab π]/ab}

Output no. 1: How a call to the explicit function which will also be a parameter looks like.

Output no. 2: How a call to the transform function with the explicit function as parameter looks like on my computer.

Output no. 3: What I actually want to achieve.

Obviously I can write expectedResult[x_] := {x, explicitFunction[x]}; but that's not the point. What I need is to be able to use a function expression/call with a function parameter and use the result later as if it's another function.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ use SetAttributes[transform, HoldFirst] $\endgroup$
    – kglr
    Apr 25, 2023 at 9:10

1 Answer 1


Use Trace to see the source of the problem. Namely, explicitFunction[ab] is evaluated to Cos[ab π]/ab before transform is called; and, since Cos[ab π]/ab does not match the required argument pattern transform is returned unevaluated:

Trace @ parametric[ab] // Column

enter image description here

A fix: Give transform the attribute HoldFirst to prevent evaluation of its argument:

ClearAll[transform, explicitFunction, parametric, x, y]

SetAttributes[transform, HoldFirst]

transform[x_[y_]] := {y, x[y]}

explicitFunction[x_] := Cos[π*x]/x

parametric[x_] := transform[explicitFunction[x]] 

 {ab, Cos[ab π]/ab}

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