Suppose I want to plot a function $f(x,y)$ but first need to calculate its symbolic expression. An easy solution is to copy the output of my calculation by hand and then paste into Plot function. If I naively do this

f[x_,y_]:= 100*x^3+Tanh[y^2];
Plot3D[f[x,y],{x,-10,10},{y, -20, 20}]

then it runs very slowly (for a much more complicated function I'm plotting). I think what's happenning is that instead of symbolically calcualte f[x,y], Mathematica numerically calculates it.

Question: is there a way to delay Plot first and evaluate the function inside Plot? Maybe using Hold? But I don't see how I can evaluate the function first after holding.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Use f[x_,y_] = 100*x^3+Tanh[y^2] instead of f[x_,y_] := 100*x^3+Tanh[y^2]? Either that, or make a Table of values instead and use ListPlot3D. $\endgroup$
    – march
    Jun 9, 2019 at 14:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Expanding on what @march said: please read up on the distinction between immediate and delayed definitions. If you don't want to delay the definition, then just don't use a delayed definition (i.e., use an immediate definition instead). $\endgroup$
    – Roman
    Jun 9, 2019 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ Add the option Evaluated->True inside Plot3D $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2019 at 18:52

1 Answer 1


Plot3D has attribute HoldAll, so its arguments are not evaluated before variable substitution. You can override this with:

Plot3D[Evaluate[f[x, y]], {x, -10, 10}, {y, -20, 20}]

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