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2.8.3 The Representation of Textual Forms

Like everything else in Mathematica the textual forms of expressions can themselves be represented as expressions. Textual forms that consist of one-dimensional sequences of characters can be represented directly as ordinary Mathematica strings. Textual forms that involve subscripts, superscripts and other two-dimensional constructs, however, can be represented by nested collections of two-dimensional boxes.


Typical representations of textual forms.

  • This generates the string corresponding to the textual representation of the expression in InputForm.
  • In[1]:= ToString[x^2 + y^3, InputForm]

    Out[1]=

  • FullForm shows the string explicitly.
  • In[2]:= FullForm[%]

    Out[2]//FullForm=

  • Here are the individual characters in the string.
  • In[3]:= Characters[%]

    Out[3]=

  • Here is the box structure corresponding to the expression in StandardForm.
  • In[4]:= ToBoxes[x^2 + y^3, StandardForm]

    Out[4]=

  • Here is the InputForm of the box structure. In this form the structure is effectively represented by an ordinary string.
  • In[5]:= ToBoxes[x^2 + y^3, StandardForm] // InputForm

    Out[5]//InputForm=

    If you use the notebook front end for Mathematica, then you can see the expression that corresponds to the textual form of each cell by using the Show Expression menu item.

  • Here is a cell containing an expression in StandardForm.
  • Here is the underlying representation of that expression in terms of boxes, displayed using the Show Expression menu item.

  • Creating strings and boxes from expressions.