Two variables with delayed expression are used for a random number generation:

Disr1 := RandomVariate[NormalDistribution[0,1]]
Disr2 := RandomVariate[UniformDistribution[{0,1}]]

It is necessary to permute the variable so that Dist1 takes the delayed value, RandomVariate[UniformDistribution[{0,1}]], Dist2---RandomVariate[NormalDistribution[0,1]].

This can be performed straightforwardly:

Disr1 := RandomVariate[UniformDistribution[{0,1}]]
Disr2 := RandomVariate[NormalDistribution[0,1]]

But for some reasons it is desirable a way without using initial right hands.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You could obviously have a third function and swap the definitions. Please explain why exactly you would need to do something like this and what problem you're really trying to solve. At the moment I find your question quite unclear. $\endgroup$
    – MarcoB
    Commented Jun 5, 2023 at 13:09

3 Answers 3


The other answer already shows the correct way to do this. For purely academic purposes, here's how you can actually swap definitions of two symbols:

ClearAll[disr1, disr2]
disr1 := RandomVariate[NormalDistribution[10, 1]];
disr2 := RandomVariate[UniformDistribution[{0, 1}]];


 temp = OwnValues[disr1];
 OwnValues[disr1] = OwnValues[disr2] /. HoldPattern[disr2] :> disr1;
 OwnValues[disr2] = temp /. HoldPattern[disr1] :> disr2


As you can see, this is rather tedious and error-prone. I made several failed attempts before getting to this "solution". This method of programming should be strongly discouraged.


Something like the following might be what you need. This is a bit arbitrary, but I don't know anything about your context, so you should probably adapt this to make it semantically cleaner.

Disr[1] := RandomVariate[NormalDistribution[0, 1]];
Disr[2] := RandomVariate[UniformDistribution[{0, 1}]]

Now, "permuting" them is just a matter of choosing 1 or 2. This choice could even be random:

Disr /@ RandomChoice[{1, 2}, 10]

While we're guessing at the OP's use-case, I suppose one is that we have the symbols in the middle of a computation and cannot literally write the equations.

swapOwnValues // ClearAll;
swapOwnValues // Attributes = {HoldAll};
swapOwnValues[a_Symbol, b_Symbol] :=
   #2 /. Hold[r_] :> SetDelayed[#1, r] &,
   {{Unevaluated[a], Unevaluated[b]},
    {Hold[b] /. OwnValues[b], Hold[a] /. OwnValues[a]}

ClearAll[disr1, disr2]
disr1 := RandomVariate[NormalDistribution[10, 1]];
disr2 := RandomVariate[UniformDistribution[{0, 1}]];
swapOwnValues[disr1, disr2];
{OwnValues[disr1], OwnValues[disr2]} // Print;
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ yeah, we really need to know what "permute the variable" actually means. $\endgroup$
    – lericr
    Commented Jun 5, 2023 at 20:58
  • $\begingroup$ @lericr Hopefully it's not permuteDefs[{f, g, h}, {3, 1, 2}]. :) $\endgroup$
    – Michael E2
    Commented Jun 5, 2023 at 21:18

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