Working with Multiple Patterns

Mathics allows Functions to have the same name but different function signatures. For example maybe you can call Hello with a either one or two parameters.

Mathics calls the a signature a “Form”.

One way to implement this in Python code is to have two different Python methods that start with the name apply, one will handle one kind of Form, say of the kind we saw previously, a person name is given. The other apply method will handle another kind of Form, such as one where there is an additional parameter, a string language value.

Here is some code for this..

from mathics.builtin.base import Builtin, String

class Hello(Builtin):
  def apply(self, person: String, language: String, evaluation) -> String:
    """Hello[person_String, language_String]"""

    greeting = "Bonjour" if language.get_string_value() == "French" else "Hello"
    return String(f"{greeting}, {person.get_string_value()}!")

  def apply_english(self, person: String, evaluation) -> String:

    return self.apply(person, Expression("English"), evaluation)

Here is a session showing how this works:

$ mathics

In[1]:= Hello["Rocky"]
Out[1]= Hello, Rocky!

In[2]:= Hello["Rocky", "French"]
Out[2]= Bonjour, Rocky!

In[3]:= Hello["Rocky", "English"]
Out[3]= Hello, Rocky!

In[4]:= Hello[45]
Out[4]= Hello[45]

In[5]:= Hello["Rocky", "French" , c]
Out[5]= Hello["Rocky", French, c]

As shown above, in order to evaluate a function call, Mathics pattern matches on the inputs.

If the inputs don’t match any of the patterns of the existing definitions then the entire expression is returned unchanged. This is seen in In[4]; 45 doesn’t match the String type check part of person_String; 45 is not a string, so Hello[45] is returned.

Similarly in In[5] three parameters are given rather than one or two.

If a function does not return any value, the Mathics expression is left unchanged. Note that you have to explicitly return Symbol["Null"] (which we have a defined for you in SymbolNull) if you want that to return Null.