In Maple I often simplify expressions for functions of same argument using the collect command:

> collect(a*f(x)+f(y)+x*f(x), f, factor)

where the extra option factor will factor the coefficients.

In contrast Mathematica:

> Collect[a*f[x] + f[y] + x*f[x], f]
a f[x] + x f[x] + f[y]

Is there some command in Mathematica which achieves the same?


1 Answer 1


You need to use a pattern in Collect which will match the terms you are trying to collect. In this case we want to collect terms like f[x] and f[y] so a suitable pattern is _f which matches any expression with head f:

Collect[a*f[x] + f[y] + x*f[x], _f]
(* (a + x) f[x] + f[y] *)
  • $\begingroup$ Is there also a way to act a routine on the coefficients of the collected terms, like the factor in the Maple command? $\endgroup$
    – highsciguy
    Dec 18, 2013 at 22:18
  • $\begingroup$ @highsciguy, Collect takes a third argument which is a function to be applied to each coefficient. $\endgroup$ Dec 18, 2013 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ @SimonWoods I wonder is there is any general explanation so one don't have to try in each case for collect. I mean, Head of Derivative[1, 2][w][r,t] is Derivative[1, 2][w] but Derivative[__][w] is not enough for Collect and one has to do Collect[b D[w[r, t], r] + a D[w[r, t], r], Derivative[__][w][r, t]] $\endgroup$
    – Kuba
    Apr 8, 2014 at 7:38

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