I have a function $f : \mathbb{R} \rightarrow \mathbb{R}^3$ defined in a rather nasty way in mathematica however it's a smooth function and what not. I am interested in $f'[t]$ and when I run it through ParametricPlot3D, it shows me what I expect it to look like.

When I try run $f'[t]$ or $f[t]$ through NIntegrate however, I always get a NIntegrate::inumr error saying the integrand has evaluated to non-numerical values.

What could be the cause of this, why is it that something I can ParametricPlot3D and also manually set up a numerical integration function for isn't working for NIntegrate?

Thanks in advance.

Additional information:

FF[t_] = Sqrt[d2 E^(- 0.2 t) +  d1 E^(0.2 t) - (b5 / (2 * 0.01))]
GG[s_] := -NIntegrate[Sqrt[d2 E^(- 0.2 t) +  d1 E^(0.2 t) - (b5 / (2 * 0.01))], {t, 0, s}]

Asym[t_?NumericQ] :=  FF[t] * {1, 0, 0} - (Sqrt[0.01 b5 + c5])/(FF[t]^2 )
{0, Cos[GG[t] + Arg[beta5] + Pi], Sin[GG[t] + Arg[beta5] + Pi]}

Everything else is just a real number (beta5 a complex number but Arg[beta5] is a number)

Both of these work fine (I see a nice smooth curve each time):

ParametricPlot3D[Asym[t], {t, 0, 1}]
ParametricPlot3D[Asym'[t], {t, 0, 1}]

Neither of these work:

NIntegrate[Norm[Asym'[t]], {t, 0, 1}]
NIntegrate[Norm[Asym[t]], {t, 0, 1}]

If I calculate the following, it shows me a value for the first entry but not the second two entries implying it is the GG[t] stuffing things up seeing as GG[t] is not used in the first entry of Asym[t] at all.

NIntegrate[Asym[t], {t, 0, 1}]
  • $\begingroup$ I guarantee you that I cannot answer this question, without more information - although, I might be able to guess that you need to restrict your function to be defined for only numerical values using something like t_?NumericQ. $\endgroup$ Feb 27, 2013 at 21:34
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I have included additional details as requested. $\endgroup$
    – muzzlator
    Feb 27, 2013 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Szabolcs: Yes but I have now realised now it doesn't work for $f[t]$ either so I suppose the error is somewhere else. $\endgroup$
    – muzzlator
    Feb 27, 2013 at 21:52
  • $\begingroup$ I'm very sorry everyone but I have just found if I change the variable t to some other name in the integration, the integration works. I don't understand why but it's now working. Why is it using the same symbol t across different functions? I guess I don't yet fully understand what := does, I just use it when I don't want the function to evaluate. I apologise for wasting everyone's time on what turned out to be a basic mathematica misunderstanding. $\endgroup$
    – muzzlator
    Feb 27, 2013 at 21:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Scoping issue wherein a t in NIntegrate gets captured. Can repair either by also having GG[s_?NumericQ] := ... or else by defining it with its own t, via GG[s_] := Module[{t}, -NIntegrate[ Sqrt[d2 E^(-0.2 t) + d1 E^(0.2 t) - (b5/(2*0.01))], {t, 0, s}]]. I will add that such questions are more easily answered if all code is provided, in this case that would include assignments for d2, b5, etc. $\endgroup$ Feb 27, 2013 at 22:43

1 Answer 1


I think what you have is a scoping issue. The t dummy variable in the NIntegrate may be getting captured by symbolic preprocessing of NIntegrate. I'm not certain because I do not see quite the behavior you do. Specifically, this seems to work fine.

NIntegrate[Norm[Asym[t]], {t, 0, 1}]

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