I want to apply a function to every element of a list without taking braces into account (depth level), but with the same form of output.

Here is an example :

{a,b,{c,d},{{e}}} -> {f[a],f[b],{f[c],f[d]},{{f[e]}}}

It would be the same as applying the function to Flatten[data], but keeping the depth as is.

Let me know if I am not precise enough.


2 Answers 2


molekyla777's answer can be very helpful but it is not technically correct. The question specifies "every element of a list" but using a levelspec of {-1} will apply the function to every atomic element regardless of its head:

Map[f, 1 + 5 x + 10 x^2 + 10 x^3, {-1}]
f[1] + f[5] f[x] + f[10] f[x]^f[2] + f[10] f[x]^f[3]

Of course this can be very useful but it is not what was requested.

To map to every List element we can use the Listable attribute:

Function[a, f@a, Listable] @ {a, b, {c, d}, {{e}}, 1 + 10 x^3}
{f[a], f[b], {f[c], f[d]}, {{f[e]}}, f[1 + 10 x^3]}

Note that the element 1 + 10 x^3 which I added is not subdivided.

You can also set the Listable attribute of f itself if it should always be applied this way:

SetAttributes[f, Listable]


f @ {a, b, {c, d}, {{e}}, 1 + 10 x^3}
{f[a], f[b], {f[c], f[d]}, {{f[e]}}, f[1 + 10 x^3]}

Be aware that if f is given multiple arguments it will Thread as follows:

f[a, {1, 2, 3}]
{f[a, 1], f[a, 2], f[a, 3]}
f[{a, b, c}, {1, {2.1, 2.2}, 3}]
{f[a, 1], {f[b, 2.1], f[b, 2.2]}, f[c, 3]}
  • $\begingroup$ This should be the accepted answer IMHO. Love the use of Listable with pure function! (never realized that was even possible) $\endgroup$
    – seismatica
    Commented Aug 2, 2014 at 4:24
  • $\begingroup$ @seismatica I've known about Attribute of pure functions for a long time but the specific trick of using only its Listability is something recall learning from Rojo: (3217) $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Aug 2, 2014 at 4:31

Use Map with a levelspec of {-1}:

Map[g, {a, b, {c, d}, {{e}}}, {-1}]
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks a lot ! I had to do complicated codes to do this and I knew that there was a simple solution. $\endgroup$
    – Mammouth
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 12:13

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