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RE: Substitution ignored?

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg48751] RE: [mg48738] Substitution ignored?
  • From: "David Park" <djmp at>
  • Date: Sat, 12 Jun 2004 23:33:40 -0400 (EDT)
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at


Let's look at a simpler case.

f = x^2;
Plot[f /. x -> x - 1, {x, 0, 2}];

The arguments of Plot are held unevaluated until all the substitutions are
made. For each value of x, f and x are substituted into the held expression
and then the expression is evaluated.

The following illustrates the process for a particular value of x. (Copy it
and evaluate in a notebook.)

Print["The first argument held"]
Hold[f /. x -> x - 1]
Print["For each plotting value the routine substitutes for f"]
%% /. HoldPattern[f] -> x^2
Print["And also substitutes the current choice for x, say 0.01"]
%% /. x -> 0.01
Print["Then it releases the Hold to obtain the value"]
%% // ReleaseHold

The rule does not match because 0.01^2  is evaluated first to 0.0001.

If you evaluate the first argument, then it will work because the rule is
applied before any numerical values are substituted.

f = x^2
Plot[{  f,  f /. x -> x - 1  } // Evaluate, {x, 0, 2}];

David Park
djmp at

From: Jos R Bergervoet [mailto:Jos.Lastname at]
To: mathgroup at

Dear MathGroup,

Why is the following going wrong?

f = x^2
Plot[{  f,  f /. x->x-1  }, {x,0,2}]   (* Identical functions plotted !!! *)

g = f /. x->x-1
Plot[{f, g}, {x,0,2}]                  (* OK, different functions plotted *)

-- Jos

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