Using Mathics from your code

There a various ways you make use of Mathics ability to solve equations, or run code which we describe here.

From a shell

Perhaps the least-tightly coupled way is to just call the command-line interpreter in a shell and process its output.

Here is some POSIX shell code that does this:

$ mathicsscript -e '3! + E^(Pi I)'
$ seq $(mathicsscript -e 'Integrate[x^2, {x, 0, 3}])'

The above code runs the Mathics interpreter in a subshell and then uses the number returned in a call another command, seq which uses that number.

To call Mathics as a subshell this inside Python, the subprocess module might be used like this:

from subprocess import run, PIPE

expression = "Integrate[x^2, {x, 0, 3}]"
cmd = ["mathicsscript", "--execute", expression]
result = run(cmd, stdout=PIPE)
if result.returncode == 0:
    print(int(result.stdout) + 5)

This code runs the Mathics interpreter as a subprocess, capturing the output and if the execution was successful converts the result from its string output to an Python int and adds 5.

Using MathicsSession

While the above is fine for running an isolated expression or two, it is pretty inefficent: Python has to be loaded every time along with the huge Mathics program; all of the built-in functions need to be set up, and some of terminal interaction needs set up as well.

If you have a sequence of Mathics expressions, or need to get results from Mathics a number of times inside your Python code, it is faster to just import mathics and set up and environment for running code once.

Here is an example of that:

from mathics.session import MathicsSession
session = MathicsSession(add_builtin=True, catch_interrupt=True)

# Compute 20!
result = session.evaluate("20!").to_python()

In the above code, session is the scratchpad area that contains results of the evaluations. Creating this stores all of the builtin deinitions. We explicitly set the parameter add_builtin=True to include things like Factorial which is used later.

Although we set add_builtin explicitly for pedagodical purpose, True is the default, adding this paraemter wasn’t necessary. We’ll leave it off in future examples.

Mathics Results as Python Objects

In the last section we passed a string to session.evaluate() we passed a string. That string was scanned and parsed, before it was evaluated. (See the section below for what goes on in scanning and parsing.)

A more flexible way to use Mathics is to skip the scanning and parsing and call the same functions that Mathics calls underneath to evaluation expressions. In this section we will do just that.

As before, we need a MathicsSession session object as a scratchpad area to save results, and to lookup previous definitions and results.

# This is the same as before
from mathics.session import MathicsSession
session = MathicsSession(catch_interrupt=True)

# These are Mathics classes we are going to use.
from mathics.core.expression import Expression, Integer

# Compute 20!
x = Expression("Factorial", Integer(10)
print(x) # 2432902008176640000

The above code computes the same value as in the last section. However we are doing this by interacting with the Mathics classes now.

In this example shown above, we convert from Python’s literal 10 to Mathics’ representation of for 10 using Integer(10). This value is needed as a parameter to the Factorial function . Stricly speaking the full name of the factorial function is System`Factorial, but we can leave off the context name, System, and Mathics will look that up.

Notice how to evaluate a general Mathics expression in Python using Expression(): the first parameter is the Full-Form name of the function to get called. Here that is Factorial. the parameters after the first one are the parameters to the function specified in the first parameter. Here it is that parameter Integer(10). Each of the parameters should have type Mathics Expression.

The returned value of Expression() is Python object and data structure that Mathics uses to evaluation expressions. However that object isn’t evaluated until you invoke its evaluate() method. Aside from evaluating the expression, other things you might do are format the expression so that it can be displayed nicely, or inspect the expression in the same way you might inspect a lambda function in Lisp.

When the evaluate() method is called, the function is evaluated but the return value is still a Mathics Expression, even if it is the computed value rather than its more symbolic form. So if Python is going to use the value, it needs to call to_python() to convert the value into a Python integer value.

Just as Python expressions can be composed from other Python expressions, the same is true in Mathics: an Expression() parameter can be another expression.

Here is an example of that:

# This is the same as before
from mathics.session import MathicsSession
session = MathicsSession(catch_interrupt=True)

# These are Mathics classes we are going to use.
from mathics.core.expression import Expression, Integer

# Compute 5 * (6 + 3)
x = Expression("Plus", Integer(5),
      Expression("Times", Integer(6), Integer(3))
print(x) # 45

Notice that precedence between operations, like Plus() and Times() is handled simply in the order in which these functions are called, so no parenthesis is used in the functional way.

Conversion to and from Python