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41. Program Flow

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41.1 Introduction to Program Flow

Maxima provides a do loop for iteration, as well as more primitive constructs such as go.

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41.2 Definitions for Program Flow

Function: backtrace ()
Function: backtrace (n)

Prints the call stack, that is, the list of functions which called the currently active function.

backtrace() prints the entire call stack.

backtrace (n) prints the n most recent functions, including the currently active function.

backtrace can be called from a script, a function, or the interactive prompt (not only in a debugging context).


Special operator: do

The do statement is used for performing iteration. Due to its great generality the do statement will be described in two parts. First the usual form will be given which is analogous to that used in several other programming languages (Fortran, Algol, PL/I, etc.); then the other features will be mentioned.

There are three variants of this form that differ only in their terminating conditions. They are:

(Alternatively, the step may be given after the termination condition or limit.)

initial_value, increment, limit, and body can be any expressions. If the increment is 1 then "step 1" may be omitted.

The execution of the do statement proceeds by first assigning the initial_value to the variable (henceforth called the control-variable). Then: (1) If the control-variable has exceeded the limit of a thru specification, or if the condition of the unless is true, or if the condition of the while is false then the do terminates. (2) The body is evaluated. (3) The increment is added to the control-variable. The process from (1) to (3) is performed repeatedly until the termination condition is satisfied. One may also give several termination conditions in which case the do terminates when any of them is satisfied.

In general the thru test is satisfied when the control-variable is greater than the limit if the increment was non-negative, or when the control-variable is less than the limit if the increment was negative. The increment and limit may be non-numeric expressions as long as this inequality can be determined. However, unless the increment is syntactically negative (e.g. is a negative number) at the time the do statement is input, Maxima assumes it will be positive when the do is executed. If it is not positive, then the do may not terminate properly.

Note that the limit, increment, and termination condition are evaluated each time through the loop. Thus if any of these involve much computation, and yield a result that does not change during all the executions of the body, then it is more efficient to set a variable to their value prior to the do and use this variable in the do form.

The value normally returned by a do statement is the atom done. However, the function return may be used inside the body to exit the do prematurely and give it any desired value. Note however that a return within a do that occurs in a block will exit only the do and not the block. Note also that the go function may not be used to exit from a do into a surrounding block.

The control-variable is always local to the do and thus any variable may be used without affecting the value of a variable with the same name outside of the do. The control-variable is unbound after the do terminates.

(%i1) for a:-3 thru 26 step 7 do display(a)$
                             a = - 3

                              a = 4

                             a = 11

                             a = 18

                             a = 25
(%i1) s: 0$
(%i2) for i: 1 while i <= 10 do s: s+i;
(%o2)                         done
(%i3) s;
(%o3)                          55

Note that the condition while i <= 10 is equivalent to unless i > 10 and also thru 10.

(%i1) series: 1$
(%i2) term: exp (sin (x))$
(%i3) for p: 1 unless p > 7 do
          (term: diff (term, x)/p, 
           series: series + subst (x=0, term)*x^p)$
(%i4) series;
                  7    6     5    4    2
                 x    x     x    x    x
(%o4)            -- - --- - -- - -- + -- + x + 1
                 90   240   15   8    2

which gives 8 terms of the Taylor series for e^sin(x).

(%i1) poly: 0$
(%i2) for i: 1 thru 5 do
          for j: i step -1 thru 1 do
              poly: poly + i*x^j$
(%i3) poly;
                  5      4       3       2
(%o3)          5 x  + 9 x  + 12 x  + 14 x  + 15 x
(%i4) guess: -3.0$
(%i5) for i: 1 thru 10 do
          (guess: subst (guess, x, 0.5*(x + 10/x)),
           if abs (guess^2 - 10) < 0.00005 then return (guess));
(%o5)                  - 3.162280701754386

This example computes the negative square root of 10 using the Newton- Raphson iteration a maximum of 10 times. Had the convergence criterion not been met the value returned would have been done.

Instead of always adding a quantity to the control-variable one may sometimes wish to change it in some other way for each iteration. In this case one may use next expression instead of step increment. This will cause the control-variable to be set to the result of evaluating expression each time through the loop.

(%i6) for count: 2 next 3*count thru 20 do display (count)$
                            count = 2

                            count = 6

                           count = 18

As an alternative to for variable: value ...do... the syntax for variable from value ...do... may be used. This permits the from value to be placed after the step or next value or after the termination condition. If from value is omitted then 1 is used as the initial value.

Sometimes one may be interested in performing an iteration where the control-variable is never actually used. It is thus permissible to give only the termination conditions omitting the initialization and updating information as in the following example to compute the square-root of 5 using a poor initial guess.

(%i1) x: 1000$
(%i2) thru 20 do x: 0.5*(x + 5.0/x)$
(%i3) x;
(%o3)                   2.23606797749979
(%i4) sqrt(5), numer;
(%o4)                   2.23606797749979

If it is desired one may even omit the termination conditions entirely and just give do body which will continue to evaluate the body indefinitely. In this case the function return should be used to terminate execution of the do.

(%i1) newton (f, x):= ([y, df, dfx], df: diff (f ('x), 'x),
          do (y: ev(df), x: x - f(x)/y, 
              if abs (f (x)) < 5e-6 then return (x)))$
(%i2) sqr (x) := x^2 - 5.0$
(%i3) newton (sqr, 1000);
(%o3)                   2.236068027062195

(Note that return, when executed, causes the current value of x to be returned as the value of the do. The block is exited and this value of the do is returned as the value of the block because the do is the last statement in the block.)

One other form of the do is available in Maxima. The syntax is:

for variable in list end_tests do body

The elements of list are any expressions which will successively be assigned to the variable on each iteration of the body. The optional termination tests end_tests can be used to terminate execution of the do; otherwise it will terminate when the list is exhausted or when a return is executed in the body. (In fact, list may be any non-atomic expression, and successive parts are taken.)

(%i1)  for f in [log, rho, atan] do ldisp(f(1))$
(%t1)                                  0
(%t2)                                rho(1)
(%t3)                                 ---
(%i4) ev(%t3,numer);
(%o4)                             0.78539816
Function: errcatch (expr_1, ..., expr_n)

Evaluates expr_1, ..., expr_n one by one and returns [expr_n] (a list) if no error occurs. If an error occurs in the evaluation of any argument, errcatch prevents the error from propagating and returns the empty list [] without evaluating any more arguments.

errcatch is useful in batch files where one suspects an error might occur which would terminate the batch if the error weren't caught.

Function: error (expr_1, ..., expr_n)
System variable: error

Evaluates and prints expr_1, ..., expr_n, and then causes an error return to top level Maxima or to the nearest enclosing errcatch.

The variable error is set to a list describing the error. The first element of error is a format string, which merges all the strings among the arguments expr_1, ..., expr_n, and the remaining elements are the values of any non-string arguments.

errormsg() formats and prints error. This is effectively reprinting the most recent error message.

Function: errormsg ()

Reprints the most recent error message. The variable error holds the message, and errormsg formats and prints it.

Special operator: for

Used in iterations. See do for a description of Maxima's iteration facilities.

Function: go (tag)

is used within a block to transfer control to the statement of the block which is tagged with the argument to go. To tag a statement, precede it by an atomic argument as another statement in the block. For example:

block ([x], x:1, loop, x+1, ..., go(loop), ...)

The argument to go must be the name of a tag appearing in the same block. One cannot use go to transfer to tag in a block other than the one containing the go.

Special operator: if

The if statement is used for conditional execution. The syntax is:

if <condition> then <expr_1> else <expr_2>

The result of an if statement is expr_1 if condition is true and expr_2 otherwise. expr_1 and expr_2 are any Maxima expressions (including nested if statements), and condition is an expression which evaluates to true or false and is composed of relational and logical operators which are as follows:

Operation            Symbol      Type
less than            <           relational infix
less than            <=
  or equal to                    relational infix
equality (syntactic) =           relational infix
negation of =        #           relational infix
equality (value)     equal       relational function
negation of equal    notequal    relational function
greater than         >=
  or equal to                    relational infix
greater than         >           relational infix
and                  and         logical infix
or                   or          logical infix
not                  not         logical prefix
Function: map (f, expr_1, ..., expr_n)

Returns an expression whose leading operator is the same as that of the expressions expr_1, ..., expr_n but whose subparts are the results of applying f to the corresponding subparts of the expressions. f is either the name of a function of n arguments or is a lambda form of n arguments.

maperror - if false will cause all of the mapping functions to (1) stop when they finish going down the shortest expi if not all of the expi are of the same length and (2) apply fn to [exp1, exp2,...] if the expi are not all the same type of object. If maperror is true then an error message will be given in the above two instances.

One of the uses of this function is to map a function (e.g. partfrac) onto each term of a very large expression where it ordinarily wouldn't be possible to use the function on the entire expression due to an exhaustion of list storage space in the course of the computation.

(%i1) map(f,x+a*y+b*z);
(%o1)                        f(b z) + f(a y) + f(x)
(%i2) map(lambda([u],partfrac(u,x)),x+1/(x^3+4*x^2+5*x+2));
                           1       1        1
(%o2)                     ----- - ----- + -------- + x
                         x + 2   x + 1          2
                                         (x + 1)
(%i3) map(ratsimp, x/(x^2+x)+(y^2+y)/y);
(%o3)                            y + ----- + 1
                                    x + 1
(%i4) map("=",[a,b],[-0.5,3]);
(%o4)                          [a = - 0.5, b = 3]

Function: mapatom (expr)

Returns true if and only if expr is treated by the mapping routines as an atom. "Mapatoms" are atoms, numbers (including rational numbers), and subscripted variables.

Option variable: maperror

Default value: true

When maperror is false, causes all of the mapping functions, for example

map (f, expr_1, expr_2, ...))

to (1) stop when they finish going down the shortest expi if not all of the expi are of the same length and (2) apply f to [expr_1, expr_2, ...] if the expr_i are not all the same type of object.

If maperror is true then an error message is displayed in the above two instances.

Function: maplist (f, expr_1, ..., expr_n)

Returns a list of the applications of f to the parts of the expressions expr_1, ..., expr_n. f is the name of a function, or a lambda expression.

maplist differs from map (f, expr_1, ..., expr_n) which returns an expression with the same main operator as expr_i has (except for simplifications and the case where map does an apply).

Option variable: prederror

Default value: true

When prederror is true, an error message is displayed whenever the predicate of an if statement or an is function fails to evaluate to either true or false.

If false, unknown is returned instead in this case. The prederror: false mode is not supported in translated code; however, maybe is supported in translated code.

See also is and maybe.

Function: return (value)

May be used to exit explicitly from a block, bringing its argument. See block for more information.

Function: scanmap (f, expr)
Function: scanmap (f, expr, bottomup)

Recursively applies f to expr, in a top down manner. This is most useful when complete factorization is desired, for example:

(%i1) exp:(a^2+2*a+1)*y + x^2$
(%i2) scanmap(factor,exp);
                                    2      2
(%o2)                         (a + 1)  y + x

Note the way in which scanmap applies the given function factor to the constituent subexpressions of expr; if another form of expr is presented to scanmap then the result may be different. Thus, %o2 is not recovered when scanmap is applied to the expanded form of exp:

(%i3) scanmap(factor,expand(exp));
                           2                  2
(%o3)                      a  y + 2 a y + y + x

Here is another example of the way in which scanmap recursively applies a given function to all subexpressions, including exponents:

(%i4) expr : u*v^(a*x+b) + c$
(%i5) scanmap('f, expr);
                    f(f(f(a) f(x)) + f(b))
(%o5) f(f(f(u) f(f(v)                      )) + f(c))

scanmap (f, expr, bottomup) applies f to expr in a bottom-up manner. E.g., for undefined f,

scanmap(f,a*x+b) ->
   f(a*x+b) -> f(f(a*x)+f(b)) -> f(f(f(a)*f(x))+f(b))
scanmap(f,a*x+b,bottomup) -> f(a)*f(x)+f(b)
    -> f(f(a)*f(x))+f(b) ->

In this case, you get the same answer both ways.

Function: throw (expr)

Evaluates expr and throws the value back to the most recent catch. throw is used with catch as a nonlocal return mechanism.

Function: outermap (f, a_1, ..., a_n)

Applies the function f to each one of the elements of the outer product a_1 cross a_2 ... cross a_n.

f is be the name of a function of n arguments or a lambda expression of n arguments. The arguments a_1, ..., a_n may be lists or nonlists. List arguments may have different lengths. Arguments other than lists are treated as lists of length 1 for the purpose of constructing the outer product.

The result of applying f to the outer product is organized as a nested list. The depth of nesting is equal to the number of list arguments (arguments other than lists do not contribute a nesting level). A list at nesting depth k has the same length as the k'th list argument.

outermap evaluates its arguments.

See also map, maplist, and apply.


(%i1) f (x, y) := x - y$
(%i2) outermap (f, [2, 3, 5], [a, b, c, d]);
(%o2) [[2 - a, 2 - b, 2 - c, 2 - d], 
      [3 - a, 3 - b, 3 - c, 3 - d], [5 - a, 5 - b, 5 - c, 5 - d]]
(%i3) outermap (lambda ([x, y], y/x), [55, 99], [Z, W]);
                        Z   W     Z   W
(%o3)                 [[--, --], [--, --]]
                        55  55    99  99
(%i4) g: lambda ([x, y, z], x + y*z)$
(%i5) outermap (g, [a, b, c], %pi, [11, 17]);
(%o5) [[a + 11 %pi, a + 17 %pi], [b + 11 %pi, b + 17 %pi], 
                                        [c + 11 %pi, c + 17 %pi]]
(%i6) flatten (%);
(%o6) [a + 11 %pi, a + 17 %pi, b + 11 %pi, b + 17 %pi, 
                                          c + 11 %pi, c + 17 %pi]

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