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I'm typesetting some group theory notes, and a significant amount of it is cycles, i.e. \left(1\,2\,3\right). Is there a way of defining a command which takes a arbitrary number of arguments so I can write \cycle{1}{2}{3}?

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up vote 18 down vote accepted

You can use a comma-separated list to define your cycle:

enter image description here

\usepackage{etoolbox}% http://ctan.org/pkg/etoolbox
  \setcounter{totalcount}{0}% Reset total count
  \renewcommand*{\do}[1]{\stepcounter{totalcount}}% Reconfigure count
  \docsvlist{#1}% Count number of items
  \setcounter{listcount}{0}% Reset current item count
  \renewcommand*{\do}[1]{% Reconfigure item \do
    \stepcounter{listcount}% Next item
    ##1\ifnum\value{listcount}<\value{totalcount}\,\fi% Print item
  \left(\docsvlist{#1}\right)% Process list
\[ \cycle{1} \quad \cycle{1,2,3} \quad \cycle{1,1,2,3,5,8,13} \]

The command \do is redefined twice inside \cycle. The first time is for counting the number of items supplied, while the second time is for printing all the items.

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A comma separated list notation is really recommended.


\NewDocumentCommand{\cycle}{m}{\cycle_main:n {#1}}

\seq_new:N \l_cycle_body_seq
\cs_new:Npn \cycle_main:n #1
  \seq_set_split:Nnn \l_cycle_body_seq {,} { #1 }
  \seq_pop_right:NN \l_cycle_body_seq \l_tmpa_tl
  \seq_map_inline:Nn \l_cycle_body_seq { ##1 \, }
  \tl_use:N \l_tmpa_tl

If really \left and \right are needed, which I don't believe as the argument should always be a list of numbers, then change the definition of \cycle into

\NewDocumentCommand{\cycle}{ s O{} m }
  \cycle_main:n { #3 }

that will allow a commonly used "fence" notation:

  • \cycle{1,2,3} for normal size parentheses
  • \cicle[\big]{1,2,3} for larger parentheses (any size prescribing command can be used
  • \cycle*{1,2,3} to enclose into \left( and \right).
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