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re: Plotting a polygon

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: re: Plotting a polygon
  • From: tgayley (Todd Gayley)
  • Date: Tue, 15 Dec 1992 16:17:20 -0600

Oslo Kolemainen <koleh%joyl.dnet at> asks:

>Hi Mathgroup !
>What is the problem here? My student tried to plot a polygon in a
>complicated way.
>Mathematica 2.0 for MS-DOS 386/7
>Copyright 1988-91 Wolfram Research, Inc.
>In[1]:= t=Table[Random[],{5},{2}];
>This works:
>In[2]:= Show[Graphics[Map[Line,Partition[AppendTo[t,First[t]],2,1]]]]
>Out[2]= -Graphics-
>But when he uses a function polygon[], it does not work.
>In[3]:= polygon[t_]:=
>        Show[Graphics[Map[Line,Partition[AppendTo[t,First[t]],2,1]]]]
>In[4]:= polygon[t]
>   {{0.10459, 0.840989}, {0.177361, 0.503785}, <<3>>, {0.10459, 0.840989}}
>     has not been assigned a value.
>AppendTo::argr: AppendTo called with 1 argument; 2 arguments are expected.
>AppendTo::argr: AppendTo called with 1 argument; 2 arguments are expected.
>   Unknown Graphics primitive AppendTo[Line[AppendTo[<<2>>]]] encountered.
>Out[4]= -Graphics-
>In[5]:= ?polygon
>polygon[t_] := Show[Graphics[Line /@ Partition[AppendTo[t, First[t]], 2, 1]]]
>Osmo Kolemainen
>University of Joensuu

The problem here is that the AppendTo assigns back into the variable t.
This means that t must have an lvalue. But t is a dummy variable that gets
replaced with its value (a list) before any evaluation takes place. You
can't say


any more than you can say

   {1,2,3} = Append[{1,2,3},4]

In short, you can't assign into a dummy variable. The general way to fix
this type of problem is to make the code into a Module with a local
variable that is assigned the value of t initially:

polygon[t_]:= Module[{x=t},

In the present case, there is an easier fix. There is no need to use
AppendTo here -- Append works just as well. This situation is like using +=
when you really only want +.

polygon[t_]:= Show[Graphics[Map[Line,Partition[Append[t,First[t]],2,1]]]]

Todd Gayley
WRI Technical Support

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