is an inactive form of f.


  • Inactive[f][args] is effectively a purely symbolic form of f[args], in which no evaluation associated with f is done.
  • Inactive is conveniently inserted into expressions using Inactivate.
  • Inactive[f] displays in StandardForm, with f or any special output form associated with f shown in gray.
  • Inactive does not affect TraditionalForm.
  • Inactive has the attribute HoldFirst and does not evaluate its first argument.
  • Inactive[atom] gives atom for atoms other than symbols.


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Basic Examples  (3)

Inactive Length:

Evaluate the expression:

Inactivate Plus:

Display equality of activated and inactivated forms:

Inactive objects are grayed out in StandardForm:

But not in TraditionalForm:

Scope  (13)

Basic Uses  (5)

Define an inactive expression:

Evaluate the expression using Activate:

Create an inactive expression using Inactivate:

Evaluate the expression:

Expression with two inactive terms:

Activate different parts of the expression:

Inactivate the symbol g only:

Activate g:

Inactivate g and h:

Activate h:

Formal Operations  (5)

An inactive form of an integral:

Differentiate the inactive form:

Formally differentiating a Laplace transform:

Similarly differentiating wrt t and a:

Differentiate operators including Integrate:






Difference operators including Sum:




Other formal operations including Product:


Code Transformations  (3)

Inactivate a function definition:

Transform a For statement into a Do statement:

Activate and use the definition:

Replace With by an iterated version, so that later variables can refer to earlier ones:

Inactivate Length:

Change the measure to be the square of the length:

Applications  (25)

Basic Identities  (4)

Show a sum identity:

Make a whole table of identities:

Show a product identity:

Make a whole table of identities:

Show algebraic identities:

Common trigonometric values:

Function Identities  (3)

Sin is an odd function of its argument:

Cos is an even function of its argument:

Hyperbolic functions with imaginary arguments are equivalent to trigonometric functions:

BesselJ[1,x] is an odd function of x:

BesselJ[2,x] is an even function of x:

Calculus Identities  (9)

Show identities, including Leibniz's rule for differentiating integrals:

Product rule:

Chain rule:

Indefinite integrals:

Infinite sums and products:

Finite and infinite continued fractions:

Apply DifferenceDelta to an inactive sum:

This is significantly faster than the evaluated version:

Formula for summation by parts:

Verify the formula in a special case:

Evaluate the sum:

Interchange the order of summation and integration:

Evaluate both sides of the identity:

Obtain the same result using the corresponding sum:

The product rule for the Laplacian:

Vector identities for three-vectors u, v, and w:

Antisymmetry of the cross product:

Orthogonality of the cross product:

Scalar triple product:

Derive Identities  (5)

The basic commutation trick for differentiating under the integral or summation sign:

Derive a closed form for by differentiating with respect to at :

Now integrate and then differentiate with respect to at :

The final result:

Verify the result:

Derive a closed form for by differentiating with respect to at zero:

is first integrated and then differentiated with respect to at zero:

The final result:

Verify the result:

Derive a closed form for by differentiating with respect to at :

Compute and then differentiate:

The result:

Verify the result:

Derive a closed form for by differentiating wrt at :

Compute and then differentiate:

The result:

Generalize to :

Solve Differential Equations  (2)

Solution for the three-dimensional Laplace equation in inactive integral form:

Obtain a particular solution by specifying the function f:

Visualize the solution:

Verify the solution:

Maxwell's equations in natural LorentzHeaviside units:

Take the curl of Ampere's law in a vacuum ( and ):

Interchange order of differentiation:

Substitute in Faraday's law:

Activate the equation, resulting in the wave equation for the magnetic field:

Verify plane-wave solutions of the equation:

Derive a Least-Squares Solution  (1)

Define the sum of squares of the vertical deviations for a given set of data:

Set up the least-squares equations:

Generate some data:

Solve the least-squares problem for this data:

Code Transformation  (1)

Replace uses of Module using Block with unique variables:

Applying the function replaces the Module local variables with unique variables:

Activate the code and the transformed code to make definitions for f and fb:

Compare values for random test values:

Compare timings for a large set of test values:

Properties & Relations  (5)

Inactive expressions can be created using Inactivate:

Inactive expressions can be evaluated using Activate:

Inactive creates inactive forms of symbols and allows parts of expressions to be inactive:

Hold maintains the expression in unevaluated form, and all parts are inactive:

Compare an inactive expression with the corresponding FullForm:

Inactive prevents the attributes of its argument from having any effect:

Normally, the Listable attribute would cause f to thread over its arguments:

Possible Issues  (1)

Inactive[h] does not have the attributes of h, which may lead to evaluation leaks:

The value of k leaks through in the following, because Inactive[Sum] lacks the HoldAll attribute:

Neat Examples  (1)

Create a gallery of multivariate sums:

Wolfram Research (2014), Inactive, Wolfram Language function,


Wolfram Research (2014), Inactive, Wolfram Language function,


Wolfram Language. 2014. "Inactive." Wolfram Language & System Documentation Center. Wolfram Research.


Wolfram Language. (2014). Inactive. Wolfram Language & System Documentation Center. Retrieved from


@misc{reference.wolfram_2024_inactive, author="Wolfram Research", title="{Inactive}", year="2014", howpublished="\url{}", note=[Accessed: 15-June-2024 ]}


@online{reference.wolfram_2024_inactive, organization={Wolfram Research}, title={Inactive}, year={2014}, url={}, note=[Accessed: 15-June-2024 ]}