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MathGroup Archive 1999

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Re: typesetting piecewise function

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg19817] Re: typesetting piecewise function
  • From: Paul Abbott <paul at>
  • Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 01:36:58 -0400
  • Organization: University of Western Australia
  • References: <7rnkf4$>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at

Henrik Weimer wrote:

> I use Mathematica 4 for a lot of my technical writing. One common
> problem I have is defining a piecewise function. In mathematical
> notation one commonly uses a large opening curly brace with all the
> cases listed to the right. In Mathematica I can try to do this but the
> curly brace does not scale to the full hight of the matrix of cases on
> the right. Here is an example:
> \!\(\*
>   RowBox[{\(\[ScriptCapitalN][\[ScriptX]]\), "=",
>     RowBox[{"{", GridBox[{
>           {"1",
>             RowBox[{
>               RowBox[{
>                 RowBox[{
>                   StyleBox["if",
>                     "Text"], " ", "0"}], "<", "\[ScriptX]", "<=", "1"}],
>               ","}]},
>           {"0",
>             StyleBox["otherwise",
>               "Text"]}
>           }]}]}]\)
> If I use a regular opening paren instead of the curly brace it scales
> fine (I guess Mathematica thinks this is a matrix). Is there a way of
> getting this to look right with a large opening curly brace or something
> similar?

I don't know why the curly brace and the paren behave differently.
However, if you select the curly brace, go into the Option
Inspector and type in Span you will see the Spanning Character
Options. If you change the SpanMinSize you can make the
curly brace scale correctly. You also might want to change
the SpanMaxSize, e.g.,

  RowBox[{\(\[ScriptCapitalN][\[ScriptX]]\), "=",
        SpanMaxSize->12], GridBox[{
                    "Text"], " ", "0"}], "<", "\[ScriptX]", "<=", "1"}],
          }]}]}], TraditionalForm]\)

I cannot see how to make this automatic though.


Paul Abbott                                   Phone: +61-8-9380-2734
Department of Physics                           Fax: +61-8-9380-1014
The University of Western Australia
Nedlands WA  6907                     mailto:paul at

            God IS a weakly left-handed dice player

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