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MathGroup Archive 2007

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Re: Plot question

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg80864] Re: Plot question
  • From: Szabolcs <szhorvat at>
  • Date: Tue, 4 Sep 2007 06:33:08 -0400 (EDT)
  • Organization: University of Bergen
  • References: <fbj2c3$nc9$>

Yaroslav Bulatov wrote:
> Why does the plot below make all 3 curves the same color?
> Plot[{a x, 2 a x, 3 a x} /. a -> 2, {x, 1, 2},
>  PlotStyle -> {Red, Green, Blue}]

This is one of the most common questions on MathGroup.  The example you 
gave doesn't even work in Mathematica 5.2, because

"Plot::plnr  {a x, 2 a x, 3 a x} /. a -> 2 is not a machine-size real 
number at x = some value"

It is not a number but a list of numbers.  But since Plot holds its 
first argument, and '{a x, 2 a x, 3 a x} /. a -> 2' is a single 
expression (not a list of expressions), Mathematica expects it to 
evaluate to a single number (not a list).

Probably it wasn't such a good idea to make this example work in 
Mathematica 6.  The incorrect colouring just confuses users, and there 
is no error message with a hint about what has gone wrong.

The solution is to evaluate '{a x, 2 a x, 3 a x} /. a -> 2' before 
passing it to Plot[] :

Plot[{a x, 2 a x, 3 a x} /. a -> 2 // Evaluate, {x, 1, 2}, PlotStyle -> 
{Red, Green, Blue}]


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