I want to replace a function with either one or two functions and also combine their arguments.

Say I have an original expression

expr = u[i + 1] r[i] r[i-1]

Then I want to to replace u[i] with g[i+1] f[i-1] in such a way that expr becomes

g[i+2] f[i] r[i] r[i-1]

If I were to feed in f[i+1], then I would like to replace u[i] with f[i+1] so expr becomes f[i+2] r[i] r[i-1].

I tried using pure functions by saying

q[h_] := expr /. {u -> Function[x, h[x]]};

but this didn't work, instead just putting (h[x])[i+1] r[i] r[i-1] when I enter a function h[x].

The expression expr is a simple example, so I don't want to separate them into functions and arguments by hand.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm confused by "I want to replace u[i] with g[i+1] f[i-1] so expr becomes g[i+2] u[i] r[i] r[i-1]. I would read "I want to replace u[i] with g[i+1] f[i-1]" to mean that the result should be g[i+2] f[i] r[i] r[i-1]. Is that right? $\endgroup$
    – march
    Aug 19, 2015 at 17:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I can't seem to follow your replacement examples. Can you clarify? For instance, what do you mean when you say that you want to "feed in" a certain expression? Feed it in to what? $\endgroup$
    – MarcoB
    Aug 19, 2015 at 17:21

2 Answers 2


If you are okay with using pure functions, you can do the following.

expr = u[i + 1] r[i] r[i - 1];

replaceuWith[expr_, h_Function] := expr /. u[x_] :> h[x]


replaceuWith[expr_, h_Function] := expr /. u -> h


replaceuWith[expr, g[# + 1] f[# - 1] &]
(* f[i] g[2 + i] r[-1 + i] r[i] *)

replaceuWith[expr, f[# + 1] &]
(* f[2 + i] r[-1 + i] r[i] *)

If you're uncomfortable with Slots (i.e. #), then you can also call this as

replaceuWith[expr, Function[{i}, g[i + 1] f[i - 1]]]
(* f[i] g[2 + i] r[-1 + i] r[i] *)

A slightly more general version that also allows you to select what function name to replace:

repl[expr_, h_Function, x_Symbol] := expr /. x -> h


repl[expr, f[# - 1] &, u]
(* f[i] r[-1 + i] r[i] *)

repl[expr, f[# - 1] &, r]
(* f[-2 + i] f[-1 + i] u[1 + i] *)

I believe you want

expr = u[i + 1] r[i] r[i - 1]
expr /. u[n_] :> g[n + 1] f[n - 1]
(*  f[i] g[2 + i] r[-1 + i] r[i] *)

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